The Final Walk


India v West Indies 2nd Test Day 2If this day had come a few years before, I would’ve somehow sold my rented house, my grandfather’s property, my neighbour’s jewels and both my kidneys to be at the Wankhede.

But life strangely keeps changing. and  things are different now.

Frankly speaking, I didn’t feel any vacuum in my stomach when he announced his retirement through a modest press release. Yes, it was obviously sad to hear. But that was about it. It didn’t hit me hard as it should have. I don’t know why.

Probably, I would’ve felt it had he announced his retirement from all the forms of the game after winning the world cup.

Probably, a few other things in life attained greater importance than him.

Or probably, since he was around for 24-whole years, i.e. throughout my life, I started taking him for granted. It’s like how you’re indifferent to certain things that are part of your life. And Sachin was exactly that: a part of life.

Despite being exposed to the brouhaha from all forms of all media, I wasn’t feeling melancholic. What happened to me? I would’ve skipped food and water for three days and grown a rishi-like beard a few years back. Now, I didn’t feel too sad about it. Something was wrong.

Thanks to the BCCI for inviting the West Indies, the first test got over in 3 days. And, thanks to Nigel Llong, Sachin’s innings was cut short to a 24-ball 12 (with two sharp boundaries). But, after a long gap, he did bowl in that match which resulted in the wicket of Shillingford. The crowd celebrated it like Brian Lara’s wicket.  Anyways, brilliant debut performances by Rohit Sharma and Mohammad Shami ensured a walk-in-the-park 199th test.

Next up:200. But once again, that feeling of going to miss him forever wasn’t quite there.

Then, I woke up yesterday, turned off my alarm to rush to the bathroom to rush for office. I think bathroom is a place where most people have their revelations in life. Amidst the self-cleansing process, it hit me. It was the day. The last ever match. The last time he’ll ever play a competitive match. No more Sachin after this.

Them, I felt weird for the first time. I wanted to express the same in words. A good Facebook status that would sound cool. I opened my Facebook and stared into my never-empty wall (most of the feed was about Sachin).

I had read all those gifted-writers beautifully expressing the magnitude of the void that Sachin will create. But then, those were their feelings. They, at best, might help stimulate yours. You could relate to them. But you can never experience your feelings through their words. It should happen to you… it should strike you… as it did for me. Like how Rohit Brijnath, the Roger Federer of sports-writers, recently answered a query about describing Tendulkar to the future generations. “Even as a writer, I wouldn’t be able to… He was an experience. You were either there or you are not”

I searched for some nice, hifi sounding words in English to update my status about him. Helpless. I couldn’t express it in words. At best, I could describe it as a kind of bittersweet feeling, peppered with admiration, memories and excitement. But words failed to convey whatever I wanted to say.

I felt disappointed at my inability to pen a beautiful little poetic line on the maestro’s retirement. I shut down my PC and left for work.

And in the middle of the final session of yesterday’s play, when Murali Vijay bat-padded a catch to Shillingford, when the crowd went crazy, when my office people abandoned their busy systems to crowd around the TV, when even the non-cricket follower friend joined the office huddle, after I could hear the Wankhede’s deafening noise despite the muted TV, when the little man stepped out, when the crowd grew louder, when the West Indian players had a guard of honour for him, when even the umpires joined them, when he acknowledged everyone equally with a modest-yet-respectful bat-raise, when he finally went to the crease to finally take the guard, like he had done for 24 years, when my heart overwhelmed and showed in my eyes, I realized something:

The best feelings in life cannot be expressed in words.

“He is an experience. You were either there or you are not”

 

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