Sachin Tendulkar brings nation to standstill, as teary-eyed fans with lump in their throats bid poignant farewell to the iconic son

Sachin Tendulkar bid a tearful goodbye at Wankhede Stadium © IANS

By Aayush Puthran
 
It was that feeling when a book comes to an end. The climax is already over and you’re in the denouement phase. There is no suspense remaining, but you want to revel in its after scripts, the emotions. It grows into a sulked feeling as you near the last line of the story. It’s the most painful bit to read in a glorious narrative. Sachin Tendulkar’s career is one fine book and you didn’t want to put it down. You wanted to hold back, and revisit every picture of the story and stop to make fantasies around it and ask yourself where you were when he braved the bounce and pace at Perth in 1992, clobbered virtually every team during the 1996 World Cup. Ask yourself what you were doing when Tendulkar played the Desert Storm innings or was making Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar look helpless during the 2003 World Cup. And not surprisingly, YouTube is going to be flooded with search request for a peculiar name from the cricketing world. We all want to revisit frames of those memories. 
 
During the last 24 years, the world’s political power-centres changed, the Indian economy rose from a bad depression to a glorious inflation only to fall back again and recover in the economic cycle and endless Prime Ministers took seat in the country. The world around us kept changing, with Tendulkar being the only constant. 
 
If the overwhelming part of the Indian population is below 35, it means they have lived their lives with him. He had transcended beyond being a mere cricketer to being an icon, a hero, a part of our homes and daily life. His departure from the game is like a daughter leaving the house after marriage. The separation brought tears as he was paraded around his home ground. Even those in the stadium who had saved their voices to cheer as loud as possible, couldn’t. Voices had chocked, there were lumps of sadness in the throat. There was pride, there was happiness, there was joy. It was a poignant cocktail of emotions. Yet, the emotions were pure. The world around had stopped as fans lent their time to him. Yes, in the busy city of Mumbai, a crowd of nearly 25,000 in the stadium had given their time to one man. But, even after all these years, Tendulkar didn’t disappoint. And not surprisingly what came out strikingly in his farewell speech was his humility.
 
There was a loud cheer every time he touched a chord with his message of gratitude. Because he knew the reason and the role each one of them played in his growth as a cricketer — of the first bat, to the healthy food, to the shared dream. Even as thousands of pieces of literature are written on Tendulkar, rarely has the man spoken of himself — of the frustrations inside, of the arguments over his game, of the pain he goes through being away from his family.
 
He didn’t intend it to be a philosophical lecture that is meant to be etched in history forever. It was purely a message of gratitude to all those who deserved it. But it connected with many others, within the stadium and outside and probably might continue to ring in quite a few ears for a long time to come. The cheers were an acknowledgement of gratitude from the fans as well to all those who mattered.
 
You didn’t want the farewell speech to end; you didn’t want the victory lap to complete a full circle. You just wanted time to breathe and take a long pause.
 
You wondered how Tendulkar would break the emotional connect, he couldn’t simply walk away. He came back, bent down and touched the pitch. Yes it was meant to be simple and humble.

Sayonara, Sachin!

(Aayush Puthran is a reporter with CricketCountry. Mercurially jovial, pseudo pompous, perpetually curious and occasionally confused, he is always up for a light-hearted chat over a few cups of filter kaapi!)