Thoughts on Sachin Tendulkar: Last ride together

After a 2-0 whitewash to West Indies, scores of felicitation programmes, a masterly 74 with all the strokes of note, a record-studded career ends with Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar – the best batsman world ever saw

India v West Indies 2nd Test Day 3

My last thought was at least not vain:
I and my mistress, side by side
Shall be together, breathe and ride,
So, one day more am I deified.
Who knows but the world may end tonight?

These lines are from the second stanza of Robert Browning’s poem, “The Last Ride Together,” and when you read it in full, you shall be able to say why this is considered to be one of the greatest love poems ever written. The words throughout the poem deepen your faith in love in the absolute sense of it. So much so that it takes the lover to deification.

But isn’t the article about certain Sachin Tendulkar as the subheadline say? Definitely it is. But to set the tone of the ‘situation’, the feeling that I, along with millions, have inside as if a desired phase of time has come to an end, this poem is one of the most apt.

We are Indians, not excited by sex so much but with that straight drive close to the stumps running to the boundary. We are one crazy lot of people who love our icons to the limit of our positive thoughts for them. Sachin Tendulkar didn’t pay anyone’s bills rather we bunked offices to watch him losing our salary for the day and, at times, job!

As Sufi poets/saints believed in the philosophy that God is inside us, we too, subconsciously, practiced that. Only the God was this little man who kept a nation in thrall. Sachin was our god as well as our beloved for whom we had all the time in our world.

I don’t remember too many stats as scores of others do, I can’t say whether that century was better or that one, I can’t possibly argue with a negligible fraction of humanity who try everything to look down upon him being the best, neither I have words for some BBC and NYT journalists who cannot come to the terms with the fact that a person from a former colony has surpassed all the records that ‘gentlemen’ from West ever had…

When I say he is the best that has ever played the game I have only a few lines to support my argument. He played with an unmatched consistency and longevity with a fear of his house getting burnt if he fails (which all Indian players play with) in all the formats, all the surfaces, all countries against all kinds of opposition and scored most runs, centuries, half centuries, fours and a plethora of other batting records.

He was a gentleman to the limit of offending you with his humility and modesty. Bradman was not. He was not the best human being off the field or even inside dressing room and as a selector. He is the greatest Test cricketer no doubt, but there is no comparison for tomorrow there might be a player who will play another format along with existing with the same ease and I will love to call him the best ever.

Tendulkar is a treat to watch even for one ball. His movement is so fluid, strokes are so liquid that it reminds me of Wordworth’s definition of poetry, “Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.” Sachin’s strokes are similar to definition of poetry. He doesn’t speak his feelings, you sledge him, you abuse him as opponents but he will convert that all reaction in ‘spontaneous overflow of powerful’ strokes, one after another…

And he is so calm at what he does. He is a literary classic for me. I find love in him. I find inspiration in him. I see a protagonist who is put in circumstances and battles through it. His has been a play unfolding in front of our eyes on an open stage.

There are too many things that all us crazy fans, fanatics remember and pick a fight in our living rooms, office roofs, and go on length to defend this man. The admiration of a nation has snowballed so much so that amendments were made to pave a way for him to have the highest civilian honour of the nation, the Bharat Ratna.

He is also a Rajya Sabha MP, another first. And it is only a matter of time that Britain confers Knighthood to the man who played their national game with such conviction and pride that didn’t let game’s defining set of words, cricket is a gentleman’s game, fade away amid foul-mouthed sledging, match fixing and hoards of other negativities.

There is no point arguing how many matches India won, how many of his centuries were for a winning cause, what is the percentage of runs in winning cause bla bla bla… Is there? No. He has retired with grace and elegance that his strokes always were.

It is a time to thank him for letting us feel happy in a mad, mad world where we don’t have time for being happy. In a society which is struggling with rapes, crimes, illiteracy, inflation, unemployment and scores of issues that give us all the reasons to be sad, here is a man who made you forget those for a limited time, he made you relieve yourselves of that stress, he gave you your time.

As Browning’s lines say, “Who knows but the world may end tonight?” well, the world has certainly ended for many of us and we, as the lovers, have had our last ride together. We saw a glimpse of everything that has happened during his career: from wrong dismissals to raised bat, to intimidating bowlers, to flurry of all the strokes that we loved…

It was one last time that we deified him. It was the one last time that we saw him bat. It was the one last time the world ended but we lived our moments. Your greatest legacy is that India won’t worry about what will happen when Sachin is out, for you groomed Virat, Rohit, Dhoni and others. And we have no regrets. Thank You Bharat Ratna, gem of India.

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