I had promised myself I wouldn't write a tribute to Sachin Tendulkar since the situation had become so much over-hyped and dramatic. But then here I am - I just can't stop myself.
We were the truthful owners of Sachin's legacy. From 1989 when I was six years old I knew Sachin and he was a part of my life growing up. He played for us and us only. All others came and went - Vinod Kambli, Inzamam, Brian Lara, the Waugh brothers, Ricky Ponting, Gilchrist, Kallis, Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly - Sachin remained there for us.
No other player single-handedly raised the spirits of this nation like Sachin did. When Sachin got out we cursed and shed tears. We switched off the TV and went outside. Sachin's was the first poster I stuck inside my new cupboard. His batting was like a beacon of hope for a nation starved of heroes. During my teenage and youthful years when I struggled with my own demons, desperation and despondency, Sachin taught me not to give up hope. It is not about his statistics and records - it is about what he meant to each of us individually that made him great.
I remember the time when Sportstar published the poster of Sachin alone with the tagline - "The Indian Cricket Team". How I had to struggle to get a copy of that one.
Of course later things changed. Sehwag came, Dhoni came - Sachin's injuries and his change of style came. We too were growing up and our concentration turned to other things when it became evident that we were no Sachin Tendulkars and had no chance of making it to the national, state or even a district team. And no chance of landing huge advertisement deals either. We grew up into girls and politics. But still when we were engrossed in some thing else and someone said "Sachin is batting" we dropped everything and went back to watch him.
Once upon a time cricket was truly our religion and Sachin was truly our god. Today that God has retired. Perhaps an age has ended, not just for him and the cricketing world, but for me as well. Today perhaps I have finally realized I have grown up too. And its time for a new innings.
Thank you Sachin...