Today, it feels as if I have lost him all over again. Towards the end of the movie, when he makes his retirement speech and I watch the entire stadium sunk in collective grief, I get a lump in my throat. Multiple lumps. I can’t swallow my saliva. I feel chocked. My eyes are fixed on the screen- huge, unblinking and hard.
I am back home and as I lunch, there is a heaviness in me that I am unable to shake off. The ending of the movie was emotional for obvious reasons, and expectedly so. You feel the effect for some minutes before you walk out of the theatre and into the road and back inside your real life. I wasn’t expecting that lump in my throat to last beyond some minutes. Obviously not beyond an hour. But nearly three hours have passed since the movie ended and as I write this, I feel so empty, so emotionally drained, I feel like a zombie. I have no sense of time and direction. I couldn’t eat much for lunch. I tried to sleep (my usual afternoon siesta) but the Sachin….Sachin chant began to play in front of me the moment I closed my eyes.
And so I decide to get up and write it down. I am writing it down just so that when I read this in the future, I am immersed in the painful nostalgia once again. And this moment, this day, when Sachin crossed my path again, it’s so personal. So hugely personal. It is a reminder that no matter how my life goes from here, no matter what giant leaps technology takes every day, watching Sachin bat has been the greatest pleasure of my life. Reading will come a close second. But second, that’s for sure. Sachin, undoubtedly, has been the highest pleasure of my life.
Growing up with him, and still growing up, growing old with him as he grows old (even though he may have stopped playing)…there’s he within me all the time. So much so that I never say or write that I am his biggest fan. Fan, ha! What a word. Fans are different. They can do extraordinary things for him. Hold prayers, write with blood, fly off to other cities or countries to watch him bat. Me, I can’t do any of these. Nah, I am not a fan. Fans are many. They revere him collectively. I am not one of them. Sachin is too personal for me to be shared with others. He is just a part of me, a part of my life, both past and present. And future. Besides, I can’t do things for him the way fans do or can do. I am too shy and too dull to take such grand actions. What I do for him, whatever I do for him, I don’t do it publicly, I do it within me, inside me. The way I sleep, dream, smile, think, reflect….. He controls the way my heart functions. The extra beat, the miss of a beat, the fast pumping of the blood, the heavy breaths. It has been like that ever since I watched him first….bat first. India versus Kenya, World Cup 1996. He scored 127 not out. For a long time, I used to think it was 126. But it was 127. Ah, how does it matter? What matters is that he has become a sublime thing…. one of the things you feel is worth being born for. I am not paying much attention to the grammatical part. I may have erred here and there. I am just making my thoughts fly off my head into these pages. Feels so good to do some writing work after a long time. I hardly read these days, writing seems like a forgotten art. And writing with pen and paper- I am doing it after a really long time. And it’s quite clear yet again why old is gold. The joy of writing on paper is so much superior to the convenience of typing on a computer pad. Just like Sachin- the good, old thing…That has been around my childhood in its pure, computer-free TV form. Now, people don’t follow TV with so much passion, what with mobile and computer thrusting their way in. I miss those old pre-internet days when you’d watch a cricket match with family (without any constant pings and rings of phone). Today, I am missing it more. Terribly more.
Also, Sachin in the movie ‘Sachin: A Billion Dreams’ keeps reminding you of the importance of being a good person. His father had told him to be a good cricketer but to be a good person first. When Sachin tells you that, you do get the message. That’s because he himself has followed that advice so well….so wonderfully well. I know I can’t be like him- the grounded, calm and responsible man- the epitome of goodness. I may try to hold up my anger for a day or two but then I would erupt and all my efforts of being like him would go down the drain. But then even if I can be like him for one day, it would be such a bliss.
He also talks of dreams and how not to stop dreaming. Seeing him fail at the World Cups for close to 20 years (that’s five failed World Cups), who would have dared to continue dreaming? Who else but he? He did fulfil his big dream and the discipline he shows towards the evening of his career is something truly exemplary. This is something I cannot imbibe by just watching him or by reading about him or even by listening to him talk about it. This will come from within, when I totally insert him within me. When I embody him. It’s hard, it’s hard. Life keeps moving, changing, challenging us. And my alarm bell rings there. I’ll need to go now. Students (whom I teach) will come. Need to stop writing here. But it’s still there…..in me…..within me….the chant-
26th May, 2017. 5:38 pm