Play it One More Time, Sachin !

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Dear Sachin,

How are you doing ? ( This is awkward)

Let me first introduce myself. I am a reserved, reluctant sort of character – generally directionless, good at drifting from one thing to another – school, jobs, love, marriage, ah and this cruel middle age. I do a few things in life decently well, but come on! – I am not really fantastic at anything in particular like yourself. ( God, that straight drive. Sigh)

I am more than a hundred million strong. We may dress differently, diss at the young Kohlis and Rainas with varying intensities and dialects, but at the core we are one person. For simplicities sake, let me call myself The Tendulkar Generation. 

So once again- how are you Sachin? I hope this letter finds you in the best of health. 

If you are wondering, we have run into each other many times – in hotel lobbies, from behind tasteless nets and rusted barbed wires, at innocuous inaugurations, and mostly through those Taiwan made TVs. I have seen you, copied you, cried when you were Shoulder Before Wicket and boy have I celebrated when Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar cuts loose.

God, how time flies.

There you were. Young boy, around my age, curly hair, twinkle in eye, and dragging a bat clearly too heavy in your hands. There you were, with that quick glance at the heavens, that stare down the pitch, and that disturbing little one quarter squat. 

And boy did I scream and laugh out loud. Somebody get him a better fitting box! And then I corrected myself. Heck, on second thoughts let him be. Everything he does is beautiful, and he hasnt even hit the ball yet.

It is difficult to say how and when exactly this connect started. Was it when you took that last West Indian wicket to leave a match tied at 126? Was it when you made grown men squeal while a cricket ball took flight like the sand that surrounded it? Or was it on that day when you flew back from a father’s funeral to that quick look at the heavens, that stare down the pitch, and that squat. 

Who cares ? We connected like kids do with elder brothers, like elder brothers do with fathers, and like fathers do with their friends from another time. In whatever role you played – teenage freak, opener for India, reluctant captain, honest young man, wise solid anchor – you remained everything that was right with our world. Sachin, you made us happy, like no one else ever did.

Top Edge, Fielder getting underneath it. Tendulkar out. Match Over. Return to exams, to nagging parents, to grainy Doordarshan and to monotonous lives.

Top Edge, Fielder getting underneath it. Tendulkar out. Match Over. Return to spreadsheet, to nagging wives, and to monotonous lives.

That was you twenty years ago. That was me twenty years ago. That was you yesterday. That was me yesterday.

I may have lost a few hair , and gained a few kilos, but with you around that stubborn part inside of me still believed I was a kid, and felt capable of pulling off amazing things in life. After all, the calendar may have ticked over and the shades may have changed, but you were still tonking it in Blue. We were always surrounded by bullies, we were always fighting our way through. If Tendulkar can, I can. 

Dear Childhood. Rest in Peace. It was good while it lasted.

Sachin, you must come across a gazzillion such notes from your fans to meet you, pose with you, shake your hand and well… be a part of the Sachin Tendulkar experience on Facebook and what not. 

But as your earliest admirer, I – the Tendulkar Generation, never really gave much thought to all of this. But today, I want my pound of flesh. I make my first and last request to you. And I am going to be firm about it. You better listen dude.

This is not how romance ends. There has to be one last look over the shoulders. Sachin Tendulkar, you have to play it one more time. Do it against Pakistan, or do it against Nigeria – it does not matter. It never did. Very honestly, like I have said before, cricket for us was Sachin Tendulkar versus 8 international teams.

You have to play one last time, and you have to do it in Blue. 

After that, they may well retire the Jersey or they may retire the damn color blue , dont care. Play it one more time, is that too much to ask?

And yes, thanks for all the memories.

– The Tendulkar Generation

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