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As I sat in my drawing room, sipping some ginger honey tea, I heard a small beep. It was my phone and when I walked over to pick it up, I saw a notification which read 'Sachin Tendulkar to retire after his 200th Test' courtesy NDTV breaking news.
I quickly got on to my Twitter feed and checked for more details. I didn't doubt the veracity of the message, my interest was more about the source. It was the BCCI who had made this announcement on behalf of Tendulkar.
The articles started pouring in left, right and centre. All sorts of people put in their views that captured several themes - logical, cynical, critical, dramatic and statistical - but frankly, I didn't want to reflect on Tendulkar's decision to retire. I just kept reading one piece after the other.
Every now and then, my mind went back to those laminated picture books I have of Tendulkar (3 to 4 rather big ones). They are still stacked in my room in India and remain my prized possession. My thoughts then drifted to the times I played cricket as a kid. What made me love this game to this day? Is it because the game by itself was so attractive or were there other factors influencing me to take it up?
How old had I been? Six, no, five, maybe even younger when I picked up a bat or ball for the first time. Our house was a little way from the city centre and so I didn't have the luxury of having too many friends. There were three others who were of my age and we started playing cricket on the streets; having a proper ground was unimaginable in those days. Notwithstanding the occasional tips from the elders, we were mostly left on our own to understand the game, a challenge which we relished.
Around that time, the cricket world witnessed the birth of the Tendulkar phenomenon. He was young and so were we which brought about an instant connection, a bond which became stronger by the day. I started playing cricket everywhere - on the roads, inside the house and any place which was sufficient to enable my obsession. It didn't take long for school to become the extra-curricular activity.
Outside of my family, Tendulkar has been a constant throughout my life and now that connection is on its way to breaking. He gave me immense joy, and occasionally the source of my tears. He made me go mad. He frustrated and inspired me. He made me a thinker, made me a believer and even gave me the confidence to go after my dreams
Who is Tendulkar? God? No. Demi-god? No. Superhuman with magical powers? No. An ordinary human beingwith extreme talent. Not quite. To me he is a kid who managed to extend his childhood beyond its definition.
I believe there is a kid inside every adult, but in Tendulkar's case, it is the other way around. He is still a kid, and kids tend to move on to a new toy or next set of challenges when they are bored with the existing toy or the next one is more attractive. I believe Tendulkar has reached that phase in his childhood where playing cricket no longer gives him the fun it once did. He has made this call to move on with his life and let the adult in him take over from now on. If cricket was his favourite toy, he has played with it more than one could possibly imagine. He will pad up for his final two tests as an adult, fully aware that his childhood days are now over.
My association with cricket started with Tendulkar and with his retirement, a big chunk of my childhood is lost. That void will be replaced by my memories of him as I move on with life, remembering the times when I did everything I could to just watch Tendulkar play.
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