The fall of the only God I believed in. The God of Cricket.

Posted: December 12, 2013 in Games, Personal
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I wonder what took me so long to write this one. Maybe I wanted it with a glint of perfection. Maybe I wanted it to come straight through my heart. It is about the God I write. I can’t be impetuous.

I am trying to bring the God of Cricket to these pages. It takes a lot. I have to choose my words carefully. I have to be thoughtful. I have to take as much time it takes, as much effort it requires and bring as many memories I could possibly garner.

Sometimes I would sit and ponder where to begin? He was forever in front of me. He was always there with us. We believed Him to be perpetual. We took Him for granted. We thought He would always be around. We thought He would be there with us till our last breaths. Like a star in the sky, He would see ages go past Him. That He would never give up. Why would He? After all He is not human. But alas! Those were make-believe stories in our heads. And like every good bit that makes a silent promise of eternity and that eventually bereaves us of its bliss, this story too trickled down our faces gradually leaving a mark so profound that it could not be forgotten.

I still remember my early childhood days when a black and white TV used to adorn our living room. Cricket would be written all over it. Zeal of my father and my brother for the game would incite my curiosity. The fact that it was, probably, the first sports game that ever managed to leave its mark on me, could be another reason that could have, possibly, piqued my interest.

As a child, I held bat close to my heart. My only weapon. Ball would stir my inquisitiveness just like it would do to a puppy. The way it would bounce. The color. The shape. Everything about it fascinated me. I became an instant cricket lover. Rules were simple back then. You clear the ropes..er…fences. Hit the ball hard. No such thing like technique. Just get it on the bat. Do not miss it. If you do, do not let it hit those imaginary stumps (three bricks that disappeared into thin air as it reached waist height). Back then, it was so difficult to make out whether the ball hit the stumps or not. Whoever spoke the loudest was always right. We based results on conviction. Majority had the judgment knell. If all shouted in unison, “Out hai. Out hai. (It’s out)” you have to either leave the bat or go home crying.

I am pretty sure my early lessons began at home. Education germinates there. I had my father do that teaching. I would suck at it in the beginning. But I had a mentor silently playing inside the black and white screen, one who always inspired me to keep trying and never give up.

Things are pretty hazy right now but I do remember hitting my brother whenever Sachin got out. I would accuse him of getting Him out, which would always be followed by my incessant tears. My silence would speak for the rest of the day. I would hit the pillow to avoid getting hurt (Smart thinking). All those pillows prayed real hard for Sachin to stay at the crease. But they always had that fear. They knew that punch was coming.

I would never miss a match. If I did, I would just inquire about His score and whether He hit sixes in the match before He fell. It would be like a festival at our house. While my mother would go on in the background, scorning the damn cricket, for it never let her watch her routine TV programs, I would sit in utter silence and amazement at every ball my God tackled with sheer pizzazz. While He would play awesome strokes inside the screen, I would imitate him in my reality.

Superstitions came into existence. Now this is something every sports fan is acquainted with. You do not move your leg, if He is playing good. If you do He might get out. If He got beat, you should probably cross your legs and sit, coz when you did that, He was hitting sixes. There would always be someone, whose arrival would affect His wicket. We would hate that person to our guts.

Ads by Sachin were the most celebrated ones. I remember getting His merchandise every now and then, as if that would make me a better player. Each one of us had an MRF bat simply because He used to play with it. Every batsman on the street, on the ground, on the roof, wherever cricket happened, was Sachin. We would embody Him while hitting a shot. We would be Him, when we ran down the pitch for a quick single. Our sixes would be our achievements. Our memories would be our rewards. Our victory would be our motivation. Our hope would always be Sachin.

My mother would often ask me the question, “What if you get to meet Him one day?” I would always say, “I will faint.” Then later correct it. “No! No! I will just die!”

The entire country would stroll towards despair whenever He got out. Nothing was more deafening than the silence. The aftermath of dismay that followed it up would be equally shattering. When He would fall, we would just know that the rest would follow Him up like pieces of dominoes. It used to be like that. He used to carry the weight of the team, nay, country, on His shoulders.

Growing up, I heard gazillions of criticism that would try to rope my God in. None of them were true. None of them I believed. He always managed to keep calm and play His way through it all. As a human being too, He is so amazing, it just makes you respect Him even more. He is so down-to-earth. Just carved in gold. With heart so pure and pious, it makes you doubt your conscience. So humble. So good. So righteous.

Sometimes you are compelled to contemplate, What if you were in His shoes? Would you be able to handle all that pressure when you walked down to the stadium? Whilst all that applause, would you be able to concentrate? When the entire country is on their feet counting on you to score runs, wouldn’t you rather have a nervous breakdown instead? Wouldn’t you shake yourself to death when you grasp the fact that every ball you face, every decision you take, affects more than a billion people? How would that make you feel when you realize that you are the most loved person on the entire planet and that over a bazillion people are always looking up to you? He used to play under all of that. He has been hitting all that pressure all across the ground. With tons of accolades in his baggage, this superhuman has managed to win gazillions of hearts.

I needn’t mention His achievements and glory. His bat spoke louder than His words. His bowling department too was equally blessed. Perfection spoke whenever He took those beautiful cover drives, straight drives, pull shots, sweeps, square cuts, flicks, and uppercuts. He wore the country on His body. Our emotions directly reflected His game. His cricket would mess with our reality. If your boss was cranky, he probably had seen Him lose His wicket. If you got extra marshmallows in your coffee, probably Sachin had something to do with it too.

He made the entire world cry when He was calling it quits. If not the world, then the country at least. His final words were drenched with tears. They came straight from the heart of the God. How hopeless that makes you feel! How empty that feeling is when you see your mentor in tears! Then you know. And lo! behold! God is just a human, carved in flesh. Still He is better than us, who loves madly, His game, His profession, His family, His country and His people.

The whole world saw Him go emotional as he struggled through the final Farewell speech. When He manifested His gratitude towards His wife, even the toughest soul in the world broke. It was then, we all realized what tragedy lied in front of us. A world without cricket. A world without Sachin.

We are shattered. We are afraid. We don’t see the light. We are groping in the dark. Cricket feels like an empty game now. The void only resounds those indelible cheers of ‘Sachin…Sachin’ from the crowd. We won’t be able to hear it again. We won’t be able to watch him play. That magic is gone. The 5 ft 5 inches miracle has bereft us.

We will be forever in His debt. We have loved Him unconditionally. He has loved us back and given us memories that we will forever be proud of. Our children, our descendants would listen to stories of His legend, stories of God, from diverse mouths.

Here I try to ink my way through tears. Just as, He might have, whilst preparing his Adieu speech.

There is so much respect in us for you, that you cannot imagine. So much love, that any person living might not have ever received. We understand, you leaving us like that. It was going to happen one day. Like any good story. You had an ending. Words fail to describe the hollow you have left. The choke in our necks. The sinking feeling that makes us feel your absence. The gloom that has been penned with depressing grief in our hearts.

We are glad, we knew you in this life. We feel privileged, that we were a part of the Sachin-era. We are humbled, by your final gesture. We felt great, when you acknowledged us with such kindness and love. You would always be our God and we would always be your devotees. Your cricket would be missed in this life and every other life to come.

Now that we see the team fumbling, fidgeting and scrambling without its backbone, we know how much He meant to us. Now He is gone. Now He is history. Yet a legend, to be narrated till time comes of age. His story would forever be sealed in our hearts. His final words would be celebrated till the end of time. His love for cricket and most importantly our love for Him will be cherished till the world would breathe.

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