Beside the giant electronic scorecard at the Eden Gardens was Sachin Tendulkar's flex hoarding in navy blue, the sketch of the master’s face, possibly from the 90s with his fizzy hair and schoolboy giggle. Nothing about it was clumsy, except the master’s spelling, which blared out “Sachine”.
An oversight maybe, but in a country teeming with “Sachification” and such like idolatry, this was crime. Worse still, the glitch was first pointed out by Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the customary pre-match press conference. “Pehle ye batao Sachin ki naam ki spelling galat kisne likhi? (First answer this: who wrote Sachin’s spelling wrong?),” he grimaced.
It was said part in jest, but the Cricket Association of Bengal, slighted by a silly yet significant blip, promptly issued a show cause notice to the agency that made the banner. Rest assured that hereafter the agency, which would have grasped that there is so much in a name, won’t be let anywhere in the precincts of the CAB.
Whether the great man himself noticed it is unsure. Even if he had, he wouldn’t have taken any affront, for he has transcended these trivial concerns of a lesser mortal. He would have shrugged it off with a chuckle. For throughout his career, his composition has been inscrutable, both on and off the field. Sometimes, it has seemed undecipherable the workings of his mind. For that matter any high-grade athlete’s, for he exists in a realm he alone can explain.
Precisely for this reason, it’s tough to comprehend or even speculate on what might be traversing through his mind as he reaches the penultimate rung of his career, his sporting immortality all fulfilled. He might feel a tad emotional or a touch poignant or maybe a sense of fulfillment or a touch of relief after the agony he has been enduring over a year or so. His might quaver or stammer. Whatever be, these emotions are best left to the master alone, for he alone can describe the intangibility of these moments. When the brouhaha settles down, the din and bustle gotten rid of, when the reality of the moment sinks in, he himself might reflect on these.
However, the journey from Tendulkar the immortal batsman to Tendulkar the cricket souvenir has already begun. The wax figurine, his sketch-embossed coin, the special stamp and even the match-ticket are but reminders of this wretched yet unavoidable fate. It has risen into such inexorable levels that even if he wants to evade the glare and focus on the immediate, he is not let to.
Then there is a moment in every great athlete’s life when he is seen and another moment he is no more and nor ever will be again. That Tendulkar is just a fortnight away from this imminent reality seems so indigestible a feeling. Maybe, he himself might feel it hard to leave a sunlit scene where so often he has made the hours immortal.