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Happy Birthday Sachin!

On » Saturday, April 23, 2011 //
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Dear Sachin,

Here's wishing you a very Happy Birthday... I wont quote the number because every fan of yours knows how insignificant it is to know how old Sachin Tendulkar has become... I am taking this privilege to write down this letter to you through my blog on this special day which is no less than a festival for billions of your fans in India and across the globe. Your birthdate 24th April 1973, is etched in the minds of all of us.

(courtesy: Internet)
Writing this itself makes me feel so euphoric and special. Thank you so much for the World Cup victory! By doing so, you did not just fulfill your dream, but that of billions of us too. If you ask me which is my most memorable photo of the World Cup, it has to be the one in which Yusuf Pathan lifts you on his shoulder and all the players do a victory lap with you with the tricolor in your hand! That photo still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it. It beautifully reflects the emotion of the majority of us... a deep satisfying feeling inside to have won the world cup for you than anyone else.

You know Sachin, its an emotional roller-coaster ride every time we watch you playing. Its amazing how strongly attached we all are with every inning of yours. Every time you are on a song, new superstitions are born. When you inch closer to a milestone, everything around us comes to a standstill. As Greg Baum rightly says about you, 'He can stop time in India' quoting his famous train journey from Shimla to Kalka. Thank you for giving us this immense joy of watching you play those 'divine' shots in the outfield. Only a 'God' can play like that. Every stroke is a treat to watch. Nothing can be straighter than your straight drive. It's my favorite shot that comes off your willow. Its like sweet music flowing so serenely through your bat. Videos of you hitting Brett Lee with your gorgeous straight drives are a hit on YouTube.

When you cross a landmark, the whole nation erupts! When you fall early, a wave of sorrow grips the same nation. No one will forget that moment when you edged to Sangakkara off Malinga on that eventful night of 2nd April at the Wankhede in the World Cup finals. That picture of the raging bull Malinga celebrating against the backdrop of a completely shocked Mumbai crowd, soaked in a deafening silence, says it all. It was a mixed emotion for many including me, trying hard to resist the devils in my mind, constantly asking me whether this was going to be your last innings. In the sports bar where I was watching you along with some 500 odd crowd, many around me had misty eyes as they saw you walk back with your willow tugged under your elbow. That silence was indeed the loudest sound I must have heard in my entire life. Your expression said it all. You kept looking at the crowd, as if you were continuously saying 'sorry' to them. India slowly rose to their feet and clapped... to cheer you up, as the whole of Wankhede broke into applause as you returned... But thanks to your wonderful team, finally the dream came true when we all saw the World Cup trophy in your hands after 22 long years of perfect devotion and integrity with which you played this magical game. 'Sach' is your aura... 'Sach' is our love for you!

(picture courtesy: mirror.co.uk)
When you started your career, you gave a new meaning to the word 'precocity'. Today the whole of India would thank the selectors back in 1989 for the bold decision that they took for including a short, shy, 16 year old in a team that was going to tour the land of the most dangerous fast bowling attack then. Expectedly the tour started with painful blows targeted towards you from Waqar and Akram. The Waqar snorter that hit your face leaving you with a bloody face and the way you declined to get retired hurt, later going on to score a match saving half century, showed the world your resolve to fight right from your early days. You made the whole world take notice of you, barely a few days after you had left your school.

Having said that I am a big fan of your straight drive, even more attractive than the masterstroke, is the 'discipline' that you have showed towards this game for more than two decades now. Just like all your shots, you have thoroughly mastered this principle of life as well. When it comes to balancing fame and success, you are cited as an example for a 'complete' personality. You are an 'Institution' in yourself. What you have given to this sport is immense but the influence you have on the young minds watching you play this game with sheer passion and dedication is simply terrific. Your illustrious career has all those values imbibed in it, that are essential to make it big as a human being, may it be leadership, management, excellence or discipline. Many would frown when I put 'leadership' right ahead, making you remind of the captaincy debacle. But most of us know that it wasn't your lack of captaincy skills that was solely responsible. There was definitely more to it during those days.

On the mental side of the game, you are undoubtedly the master of all. No doubt why you are called the secular saint of Cricket. Your every inning not only teaches how to set realistic goals, but also how to achieve it with positive thinking, efficient energy management and a cool and calm mind. Needless to say, your humility has bowled even your oppositions over. Its so heartening to hear from you, especially after so many proud moments in your life, that the most poignant moment of your 22 year old career is still the day you wore the India cap first! How humble you can be! Sachin, every image of yours has so much to tell and  so much for us to learn. For example, every time you step down the team bus, you have your headphones on. Amidst the crazy media with their constant clicking and flashing of cameras, its amazing how oblivious you are to the mad world around you. It will always remain a big mystery about what exactly lies beneath that helmet, under those curly hairs. Its the best show of equilibrium, when you approach the pitch and take guard. 

Your batting is a beauty to watch. The way you drive the ball, your back foot cuts, pulls and flicks look as if they have taken right out of the textbook. And as one would expect only from a person like you, you have shown master class in the other fields of cricket too. Your variations in bowling are so unpredictable. I still remember the last over you bowled in the Hero Cup against South Africa back in 1993. Today you are a part of a team of youngsters who were barely learning to walk when you started your career, and yet the enthusiasm you show in your fielding, even today, can make these young guns embarrassed. Your constant hunger for learning is what sets you apart from others.

For me you are not just the greatest Cricketer ever, but you are the greatest sportsperson this world has ever seen. Many believe that you are the next Don Bradman... agreed! Even Sir Don saw himself in you. But looking at you today, I can proudly say, without even a glimpse of doubt, that there wont be 'a next Sachin Tendulkar' ever!

(Courtesy: Internet)
Sachin, you are aware of the media frenzy around you. Even after all eyes are always upon you, day and night, no scandal has even come close to you in this long career. Your clean image has been an inspiration for many. There are and will always be cynics around you, questioning your contribution in tense match situations, some still living in the delusion that your centuries do not often take India to the wins. (For them I have an answer here). In fact it is you who looks to build a strong base for a win, but the ten other men in the team fail to capitalize on it. Despite this, you never ever showed any emotion whenever India lost despite your heroics. You simply walk away from the field shaking hands with the same teammates that let you down. 'These' cynical minds who criticize you, forget that its not a one man show, but a team effort that matters at the end. But that criticism has no logical basis and I believe it is often an emotional outburst, an immature one though! More so, it is so ridiculous to hear it from someone who have not even held a bat in their entire life. These are people who like to make cheap fun and criticize you for their personal gains. Sadists!!! Anyways, dear 'God', please keep ignoring them and forgive them as you always do.

Despite living in a country where expectations from you grow day by day, you have made it a point to bring each one of them to reality. You didn't let expectations bog you down even a bit. But we mad, crazy fans will always remain hungry for more success from you. Just like you, even we never get satisfied with your achievements. We insanely crave for the 'next milestone' thats closing in. We easily forget that its a 38 year old body which has been toiling hard ever since it stepped for the first time in 1989, whose joints are often bandaged all the time. However impatient we are, you have never disappointed us. No wonder the latest 'wish' that is doing the rounds in your fan club is for you to play alongside Arjun one day in the national cricket team. What a day that will be! However distant it seems, we will always be hopeful from our 'God' to fulfill our wish one day!

Words fail when I say 'thank you' Sachin, for all the wonderful moments you have given this cricket-mad nation to savor for years to come. Finally, here's wishing you a very Happy Birthday once again... and also wishing you luck in Aamchi Mumbai style... 
'Come on Tendlya... Gheun Tak!'

-Yours lovingly, 
Dr. Kirti Tandel 
(a die-hard fan)

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