Every once in a while there is a night that spells a sweet dream. We do our best to live the night and the dream that it brings along.
When we wake up, we do our best to recall that dream. Subconsciously, we desperately try to prolong the dream as much as possible. And then, when we try too much, it all falls apart. The noise increases, the light becomes unbearable, and then the dream shatters without much ado and celebration.
It just becomes a rude ending to an otherwise fairy tale.
Sachin Tendulkar, the great Indian dream that lasted for astonishing 23 years, is becoming one of such dreams.
The story that is unfolding today is enormously painful for someone, who revered that dream for his or her entire conscious life. It is difficult to digest it for a child, who in the early 90’s fell in love with the curly haired wunderkind. It is plain anguishing for someone, who grew up along with the legend of Sachin Tendulkar, and who rested many small joys of life on the exploits of the phenomenal sportsman.
In the context of this story, the proverbial someone is an entire generation of India, which was born around 1990.
For this generation and its era, Sachin Tendulkar was not just a player. He was not just another cricketer. He was a social icon. He was an entity that rose above every communal, cultural and social barrier to attain a mythical status. He was the beacon of hope and joy in otherwise gloomy life of average Indians. He was a part of every family. He was omnipresent in minds and discussions.
As it happens to be, the economic liberation of the country coincided with Sachin’s rise. His every stride towards immortality was matched with the nation’s step towards the unprecedented prosperity. His position in the society led to one amazing phenomenon, where Sachin Tendulkar’s journey and India’s journey were tied to each other in many ways.
His impact on the India’s journey is enormous. It’s well documented, as well. However, the other side of the coin is equally fascinating. Sachin, who in his own way defined the modern India, is defined by his nation to a great extent too.
In the new climate, Sachin Tendulkar has become the ultimate brand. His omnipresence transcended discussions and minds. It is translated into barrage of advertisements and millions of posters and hoardings. He is present on every street and every corner. He flashes on millions signboards and television sets every day and every night. The beacon of hope and joy is now one of the torchbearers of capitalist India.
On the other hand, with a prospering economy people changed, and so did their mindsets. The youth began to aspire more. The dreams became bigger and bigger. Consequently, the competition accentuated. The social creed changed with the flow, too. Money, which had a slight stigma attached to it in socialist India, became the ultimate end. Being rich was no more a sin, it was the goal. India, which earlier reveled in romanticism and “moral victories”, increasingly leaned towards materialism.
The new India is ruthless. It’s a society, where every extra mark in redundant exam, every gained inch of height and every lost ounce of weight are obsessions. It’s a market, where soul, body and brain are all on a 24/7 sale.
The romantic fascination for the journey is long gone. It’s the destination that matters. Understatement, elegance and grace are things of past. Flamboyance, exclamations and loud expressions are en vogue. The new generation cares for the result, it is actually bred on that lines. It also has agonizingly short memory. Every season brings in a new fad and it lasts until the next one arrives. People now move on easily, and they would like to do it even faster. There is no scope for hanging around. Impatience is the defining hallmark.
This is where things changed, and it is ironic that the man, who in some ways propelled this change, has fallen prey to it. It was he, who taught many to dream and to expect. And it’s him, who has become the victim of those mighty expectations.
The new India has defined Sachin with his consistent performance, monthly centuries and periodical records. Results, you see!
The notion that the true romance of Tendulkar’s story lies in his journey, not the destination, would seem hilarious to many people. His historical importance, his sheer brilliance and divine talent are just old facts for millions today. A dry patch that lasts for a series is enough for retirement calls. Any performance that is not “up to the mark” is subject to a maniacal scrutiny.
The large chunk of the population cannot identify with him anymore. His virtues are archaic for them. Everything he does annoys them, and his motives are constantly questioned. Thanks to such an encouraging situation, critics are having a field day. Some of the people are simply harsh and ungrateful, and others can’t feel the gratitude since they have not experienced the entire story.
The fact that the man is getting older doesn’t help. The journey that has lasted for 23 years has now tired many. Secondly, it seems that the man, who created the economy of cricket, has become its prisoner. With billions riding on him, it’s almost as if he is obliged to play. The BCCI and its highly insipid way of handling legends is not helping the matter, either.
More than ever, it is now apparent that the dream is not sweet anymore. There were thousand factors that created the epic saga of Sachin Tendulkar. Today, there are thousand factors that are working overtime to end it.
The dignity with which Sachin Tendulkar has carried himself through these oscillations between adulation, reverence, and the noise and criticism is simply astonishing. The strength required for such a stoic silence must have been immensely painstaking.
There was a time, when he brought sanctity, solace and respite for the entire nation. He was the great Indian dream, which will forever be a stuff of legend. However, the morning is here and now. There is a lot of noise, and the unbearable light. The way this dream is about to end is perhaps rude.
It’s not the ending that the story deserves, and it is not the adieu that the man commands. However, it seems irrelevant, since maybe it’s the time, when the man himself needs all that sanctity, solace and respite back.
Sooner or later, he shall have it. And when he does, then hopefully the nation will realise what it has lost forever.