Therefore SUNAAD RAGHURAM asks: What in heaven’s name is wrong with all of us?
A nation of desperate souls whose very legitimacy as human beings, it seems, depends on cricketing exploits and the shelf life of the cricket heroes in our imagination.
It’s psychological, it appears.
For a nation like ours where there are more things wrong than right, to put it mildly, there is an anxious yearning, a frantic feeling, a remarkably unrealistic hoping in our collective psyche—that our heroes should never sing their swansong, should not even be seen to be human and show any hint of mortality whatsoever.
The burden of being Sachin Tendulkar is Himalayan in size, Amazonian in extent and quite simply impossible to fathom in general.
Millions of voices, millions of comments, millions of opinions, and millions of judgments. From the banal to the ridiculous to the profound. And he’s expected to bat on and on. Not just facing the cleverest of bowlers on the field but the inconsolably expectant of men off it.
Have we as a nation, just paused for a moment to even consider what it could be for the man to bear the burden of collective insanity that governs his life, his batting, his bowling, his very cricketing identity?
To be put to test every single day; to have the arc lights of analysis being panned in your direction without respite or mercy; to be made answerable to the anonymous; to have every single twitch of your muscle, every single shift of the sinew, every single position of the eyebrow put under the microscope; to be given a report of the diagnosis of your very persona, both cricketing and personal.
What a humongous burden it must be, what tremendous stress.
Yet, Sachin Tendulkar carries on with a smile, with a moving show of refinement, never getting angry, never showing any indication of a seething irritation; handling the media, answering a thousand questions, invariably so banally predictable and boringly repetitive. And…
And still retaining the enthusiasm and more importantly, the focus and single mindedness to strap on the pads, one more time, when the umpire calls play!
Like a sage who has vowed to propitiate a certain god. Unmindful of the mental mayhem around him.
Sachin Tendulkar will not play in the West Indies. And one day, not too far from today, he will not play ever at all. Let us plainly come to grips with that. And allow him the right to put away his bat in the cabinet.
And before we go ballistic, let us try to comprehend what it is to minutely venture out of a cricketing crease to just judge a single, a mere single, with eleven adversaries hounding you like rabid hyenas, inside a stadium with some fifty- or sixty- or seventy-thousand men screaming, war-like exhortations, at the top of their lungs.
And I’m not even talking of hitting a Shane Warne or a Brett Lee or a Shoaib Akhtar for six over long on. Into the fourteenth row of the Garware Stand!