By: Divyanshu Asopa
March 13, 1996. Late Evening.
A small city in Rajasthan.
“Run! We just have 2 minutes!”
And both the kids started running madly from their home to nearby Doordarshan TV Relay Centre. They entered into the control room which was already crowded with the office staff of Doordarshan. Watching regular guests in the office the staff made space for them. Short in height both tried to stand on a chair to have a look at DD2 channel which used to show the cricket match when DD1 used to broadcast regular news. I was one of the two kids.
Sachin Tendulkar was single handedly taking India into the finals of the Wills’ Cricket World Cup in 1996. India was on 98 for 1 and little master was playing on 65 in a fully packed Eden Garden stadium which holds around 1,00,000 spectator on a given day.
Trying to just kiss the turning ball with his bat he took his foot outside the crease and was stumped. Replays were clearly showing that India’s hope for the final match birth was fading away and everyone was waiting for the third umpire’s decision. He was declared out and he walked all alone through the stadium which was cheering a few minute ago and now completely numb within a second.
I was not able to control my tears. He was out. I cried like a kid. Heck…I was a kid! I was just 8 years old. Yet, I knew that it was only this man who could take India to finals. He was our last hope. India lost the match and everyone knows how shameful moment it was in the Indian cricket history.
Not his 100 centuries; neither his number of runs scored in the International Cricket, but Hope. That’s the word which defines Sachin Tendulkar. Hope.
And that’s what he has taught me and every other Indian who has grown up watching him.
We are a country where we were taught Gandhian principles since childhood; where we are taught that our moral conducts should be that of Shri Ramchandra Bhagwan; where we are taught to be a mediocre is our life; where running behind your dreams is considered to be foolishness; and, where having a good degree and a good job followed up by an arranged marriage is the ideal life. But we are never taught that playing hard and winning is the way of life. We are never taught that you just get one life to live so instead of looking for safe career options and settling down by getting married as soon as you get job, you should actually go and live it by doing what you love not thinking about how much money you would make, how much hardship you would have to go through. Never! We are just taught to lead a life where we were mere spectators.
In such an era there was just one person out there in the 90’s who lived his life on the core Indian values; humbleness, honesty, hard work and yet dared enough to follow his passion. That man carried the hopes of all the Indians on his shoulder. A cricket match was not just another match for most Indians. It was more than that. It was their way out for running away from the reality, from the harsh truth that they don’t have enough potential in them to dream big, to have their dream car, dream house and a job which they love. There was just one person who was keeping their hope alive. There was just one man who used to bring smile on a student’s face even after he passed through 40% or Gupta Uncle who had an early morning fight with his wife or Mr Sharma who was not able to get job because he was not able to pay a bribe for it. If there could have been a device to calculate the happiness quotient of a country on a given day, then I can bet you that India’s happiness quotient used to grow by 100% on the day when Sachin used to play well. I remember that I used to feel like if I have scored 100 marks in my Maths paper on the day he used to score century. ‘Aaj Din acha nikal gaya’ used to be the most heard comments after he you used to win matches for us.
But, have we learnt enough from him? Have we been good students who did their homework well when one of the best teachers was teaching us that how should we live our life?
Have we learnt that even a person who is worshipped as GOD had to play 6 world cups to win the World Cup for his country? Did we learn that even when other team members were not performing up to their level, he scored most runs from the Indian side during the world cups in 1996, 2003 and 2011, while he was the second leading scorer in 1992.
Have we learnt that by chasing 271 even on the last day of the Chennai Test in 1999 against Pakistan, one can manage to score 136 runs and your team can still afford to lose because 4 batsmen were not able to score mere 17 runs to finish off the match? And yet, you have to get up the next morning and go for practice again.
Have we learnt that even a part time bowler can win the match for India when 3 runs were needed from 6 balls just because he believed that he can do it for his country and to remind you he took the ball out from his captain’s hand because he knew he would be able to carry it well? Do we have this level of self-confidence when we want to leave our job and start our own business or when we just want to go and join an acting course leaving the MNC job we have been doing for a while? No, we don’t because we would be considered too foolish to leave our job and do what we love.
Have we learnt that even God has to go through criticism? Have we seen Sachin Tendulkar speaking about his critics? Have we learnt that instead of speaking and fighting with your critics you should listen to them and reply back to them with your performance?
No, we haven’t. Instead, we show aggression to our critics but don’t use our aggression in our work. We enjoy criticizing and get pissed off when one does the same to us. And instead of focusing on our performance, we start upon a character assassination of the person who has criticized us.
Have we learnt that everyone who has born will go through bad times and it won’t stay longer? Bad times will pass through just the way good times do. It’s just the matter of time when it will pass away and we have to just hold on to our faiths for a while. Have we learnt that even if we are on the top, our humbleness is what makes us the greatest?
I haven’t. I am still struggling with my daily chores of life to earn bread and butter. But whenever I watch him play another heroic inning, a tear drops down my cheeks, not because he is a master player but because of the guilt that I could not learn anything from the greatest teacher ever born in India.