Had a super lovely launch of my latest book, Shobhaa: Never a Dull De. Gauri Sinde sparkled.... we engaged in a lively conversation on gender issues and more...
This appeared in Mumbai Mirror today....
“ I was there for Sachin’s historic match!” This is going to be something we’ll all hear for years to come from those who were fortunate enough to watch the Master Blaster playing his last test match. Why not? Even for someone like myself ( plainly put : I am interested in the lives of cricketers, and not in cricket per se), I had goose bumps when Sachin Tendulkar walked onto the cricket field to a standing ovation .The roar that greeted him was so deafening, I was sure it would cause a mini seismic quake at Wankhede Stadium.Forget rock stars, forget movie stars. That magical afternoon, there was no sun, no moon, no star in the firmament. There was just one luminous body on earth and that was Sachin. I have seen and interacted with countless celebrities in my long career. But I have never been a part of something like this.Nothing and nobody can manipulate as spontaneous and visceral a response (pure, unadulterated adoration ) for an individual. I have seen mega celebrities come and go in my time. But never have I witnessed this insane level of admiration amounting to undisguised worship for any individual. Not even for a Godman. While experts will no doubt try and deconstruct the Sachin Phenomenon over the years, and we’ll get to read several erudite theses on the making of a Living God, I will always wonder what must have been going on inside the mind and heart of just one woman in that large stadium - Sachin’s Aie . What a magical moment it must have been for this wonderful lady who had never been to a stadium to watch her famous son play! Unbelievable, but true! When she finally did make it, it was only to see her son play his last test innings. I get a lump in my throat just thinking about this.
I am sure most of us managed to catch Mrs. Tendulkar Sr.‘s close-ups on our television screens. I am equally sure a lot of us stupidly tried to read her expression when Sachin came out to bat. I, for one, was completely floored by her simplicity and the obvious lack of any artifice, as she tried to stay out of camera range and have her fill of Sachin in full flow. Here was a simple, middle class Maharashtrian lady of a certain vintage, unaccustomed to publicity, who thought nothing of unselfconsciously sticking her tongue out, as if to say, “ Ooops! Am I really on camera? Should I smile? Look away? Hide my emotions? Ignore the lens capturing every flicker of my eyebrow?” I found her naturalness and innocence so disarming, I wanted to instantly hug her.
Getting those few, rare and privileged glimpses of Sachin’s proud mother, also gave us, his admirers, a marvelous insight into the man who is indeed a god to his followers. As the books always say, “ If you want to understand a man, meet his mother.” For all these many years, Sachin’s Aie has scrupulously stayed away from the public eye. We knew all about his father and his brother Ajit. We have seen his gorgeous kids and lovely wife. Why, we also know a little about his mother-in-law. But this was the first time we saw Sachin’s mother. And everything suddenly became very clear. Observing a Very Famous Person through a ‘Mom filter’, often makes that remote celeb a little more real. It was reassuring and fabulous to note how very modest and retiring Mrs. Tendulkar Sr. obviously is. The lady is simply not used to fame!! Even though her son happens to be one of the most famous individuals on Planet Earth!
God bless Sachin’s Aie. It is time to say ‘Thank you’ to her. I am sure she knows it in her heart of hearts – but it’s always nice when someone else says it : Sachin’s place can never be taken.He is what he is, because she is what she is. India….and the cricketing world, owe Sachin’s Aie a big one!