Why is it important for us to be assured, time and again, that Sachin Tendulkar is not finished? Why is it necessary for us to bewail, time and again, that he is? Both sides of us do what we do for the same reason: Insecurity.
In the contradictory postures can be found the one thing both us’s desperately desire, i.e., to preserve a religiously cultivated image of Tendulkar as the biggest thing in the history of contemporary cricket. We want him to go on and on like a superhuman or go before he reveals himself to be a mere mortal. At this point, both sides on the ‘Tendulkar’ debate fear he may not be the ‘God’ we turned him into.
When Tendulkar goes, a familiar, yet barely credible, overachieving part of us will go with him. And so, in the eyes of the poll-taking, comment-spewing crowd, he must call it quits now. If he does what the ‘go gang’ in us wants him to do, he will remain, in our eyes, the way we see him: Immaculate. If Tendulkar stems the rot and starts scoring big runs, the ‘stay gang’ in us will be relieved. If he continues to fail, both us’s will be crushed. And since neither of us knows how to deal with this inner conflict, the both of us feel the need to shout in order to drown it.
Fact is, at this point in time, neither party in us is very sure what it wants him to do. Of course Tendulkar is very clear that Tendulkar is not ready to move on. But that doesn’t matter to us.
We don’t want to endure the travails that lie on the road ahead. We’d prefer it if he took the safe option and hung up his boots without sullying our idea of him any further. Retirement is the easy way out... for us. It will spare us the pain of seeing him fail more times. He may never again attain the heights he once lorded over. The thought has entered our minds and it terrifies us. Clearly, we don’t have the stomach for it. Even though, Tendulkar does. We are not resilient enough to wait and see what develops. We want the matter to be resolved now. Why are we like this?
We are like this only because we see many parts of ourselves in Tendulkar. He looks like most of us. He talks like most of us. He behaves like most of us. And even though he exists in a bubble of his own, there is something very approachable about Tendulkar. He is the uncommon common man. He is the ‘Mahatma’ of Indian cricket. And we will not let him be Sachin Tendulkar.
If we really love Tendulkar, we should do what young Virat Kohli said (after India won the World Cup) and free him from the burden of our expectations. It’s high time we stopped depending on Tendulkar to make us look good.
The writer tweets @Armchairexpert. You can follow him if you’re into that sort of thing.