I was only four years old and lived in Nagpur with my parents in the late 80s and the only exposure to electronics to me was a black and white Beltek made television with 12 channel tuner, a radio mostly called as a transistor in those days. Sometimes the radio played more than what we call as music or news. An excited voice of a radio cricket commentator echoed the allies on and off in those days rattling the ambiance with praises of a young player on the Indian side.
As I grew up and came to Lucknow a lot of things changed and the 12 channel black and white changed to a 29 channeled remote control television. Still, the radio ruled.
I used to see all age group people surrounding a small radio with a huge antenna poking the heights. With tea cups in hand and ears glued to the voice coming from it..with the excitement rising in the voice the people listening to it also used to jump in excitement. The voice from the radio did change in the times passed but what remained common was that name which the voices kept chanting.
I used to play cricket with the kids of my age and I was pretty bad at it, but there were kids who played so well that they were called with the same name that the radio voice took in all these years…
That name traveled from radios to locality grounds and from locality grounds to hearts. There were fewer telecasts of matches on television then but it was strange how that name became a cult and was followed like a religion amongst people of all age groups. That name was none other than Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
I remember once I was down with fever and hence didn’t go to school and I was happy. Not only because I missed school but also because India was playing against West Indies the same day. It was going to be the first time when I was going to see the match from the toss. It was a match from the world cup and Curtly Ambrose took the wicket of Sachin by getting him caught behind. It felt as if the earth stood still as if life never existed. In the coming matches the young lad rose like a sun of winters, everybody loved the warmth he gave with his simple living and a charming smile.
Sachin never looked back since then and blessed the childhood of the 90s kids.
We were busy in the completing our studies and dealing our personal love lives when Sachin kept adding a pinch of himself in the recipes of our lives and helped us forget small or big problems.
Amidst exams, studies, functions, scoldings, etc the only reason behind every Indian’s smile was Sachin Tendulkar. A person who was a master of his game but above all a gem of a human being. His smile more than his game won every single heart be it a kid or an adult. He was the only reason we remained Indians and rose above just Hindu, Muslim, Christian or Sikh.
Him touching the field before stepping in filled many eyes watching. His straight drives cured many depressions, his centuries were like birthdays to many, him looking up at the sky after a century earned him blessings and him walking off the field after getting out was the end of the match for most of us. He ruled the heartbeats with the bat. Every heart in the stadium matched its pace with the ball hit by his bat.
It was 14th November 2013 when most people stopped following cricket religiously because it was then when their pacemaker retired leaving all those who grew up seeing him play. A lot of bats still lie in the corners of the houses under cobwebs and dust which were held for the last time on 14th November 2013. Mine too.