Poor Sachin Tendulkar! If only he’d had fans instead of worshippers.
Oh, the folly of making a boy a God before he can turn man — he’s been paying the price for it ever since.
Dear Sachin worshipper,
On October 10, 2013, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Prime Minister of Libya was abducted and held, before being released. Malala Yousafzai won the European Union’s human rights prize. Pervez Musharraf was arrested in Islamabad for the storming of the Red Mosque in 2007. A southern State continued to burn, the Indian rupee weakened, and Cyclone Phailin was clocking almost 200 km per hour as it tore up everything in its path. But chances are, you wouldn’t be aware of any of them. To you, there was only one event that had occurred on that day: the Little Master had announced his retirement from Test cricket.
Half the nation went into depression over his retirement. Eulogies poured in from all across the cricket-playing world. But while there were nostalgic quotes and encomiums from the highest quarters, it was not all sweet-sounding music that filled the air. There was the other half, which was simply relieved. There were also the unmistakable voices complaining about an end that should have come sooner. These voices, ranging from ‘at last’ to ‘thank goodness’, marred the proceedings. And I bring this to your notice because you are responsible for it.
It is very interesting to note how we, despite having numerous religions and a multitude of gods, still look to create idols among men by putting them on a pedestal, and by worshipping them. And by doing that, we deny them their basic right — the right to be human and to fail, at times.
Call him old, call his hand-eye coordination jaded, call him out of form but it has to be said that, even during the worst of times, he has been able to hold his own. And yet, there were loud jeers when he chose to continue after all those who came into the limelight much after him had retired. There were the usual debates about him playing for records and not for his team. There were the voices of dissent that criticised him for not being a big-match player.
His problems went beyond age and his failures on the field — they had more to do with the fact that you deified him and elevated him to a position above mortals. There’s not a stadium in the country where he has not been declared a god of a religion called cricket. But then, gods have to perform miracles all the time. Gods cannot fail. Gods have to be more punctual than superheroes in saving the world. And where there are worshippers, there are bound to be the atheists, whose sole focus in life would be to disprove the existence of god.
And that was how you, who wished to project him in a larger-than-life image, ended up making him the target of those who were critical of a willow-wielding god in their midst. To them, it was understandable that Lara didn’t pull his team out of a hole whenever they caved in. Ponting could lose two Ashes series in a short span and expect to go back to a home where the glass windows were still intact. But your god had none of these luxuries. He was omnipresent — he was both on a pedestal as well as under a microscope. And you put him there.
Because you made him God, the detractors waited to prove you — and him — wrong. Because God would always have to be on their side — the winning side. It didn’t matter that he took the team all the way into the finals of the 2003 World Cup. God was supposed to have scored a 100 in the finals as well. It didn’t matter that he stood out in many an overseas tour as the only player to have notched up 50s and 100s — God didn’t get his team to win.
You can argue that cricket is a team game and that the other 10 needed to take up responsibility as well. But that would apply only to a team comprising 11 mortals, not 10 mortals and a god.
You can close your ears, but you cannot shut out the noise from the naysayers, a terribly distracting cacophony that outshouts the lovely paeans of praise being sung, much like a local loudspeaker disturbing the harmony of an opera in progress. He doesn’t deserve it. He deserves better than a divided house where the question ‘Why?’ cried out by half the population is drowned out by a resounding ‘Why not?’ from the other half.
If only you had stayed a fan instead of becoming a worshipper. If only you had let him remain a legend instead of making him god.
A disappointed cricket fan.