Sachinnnnn..... Sachinnnnnnnnnn, then the clapping of hands, the banging of bottles, then the chant would begin again... Sachinnnnn..... Sachinnnnnnnnnn. Over and over again -- it was an immortal chant.
But today after Sachin Tendulkar finished his speech, he walked to the middle, one final time still wearing the India colours, he bent down and touched the pitch, kissed the dust and touched it to his head... all along the crowd chanted his name... 'Sachinnnnn..... Sachinnnnnnnnnn...' and then there was silence. An uneasy silence -- yet at the same time it felt as loud as anything we'd ever hear.
Almost every Indian cricket fan who ever came to the ground had an innate feel for what needed to be said when you were in the stands. We have no elaborate songs like fans in the English Premier League, no anthem, but everyone knew this chant; the rhythm; the timing; the length... it was all natural, very much like the man himself.
As he spoke to the crowd, to all those present -- many a grown man broke down into tears -- a kid was content playing 'Angry Birds' on his mobile phone but then he doesn't know Sachin like we do. They just couldn't believe it. It had been in the making for while -- we all knew it was coming but still there are some things you can never prepare for. We just didn't want to believe it.
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How could this be over? What will he do? Will he return to cricket? Will he still offer advice to young cricketers? Will he turn his attention to other sports? When we see him again? When we see the next Test and Sachin's name will be missing from the scorecard... how will we feel... how will he feel?
It was crazy and it was emotional.
He cried too. He kept gulping down water to hold back the tears. It came from the heart. It was genuine. It wasn't written by a speech writer, there was no beehive rhetoric, it was about himself and the people who mattered to him.
And the fans found a mention there.
"I want to thank my fans from the bottom of my heart. 'Sachin, Sachin' will reverberate in my ears till I stop breathing,” he said and the crowd roared again.
For at least 20 years, we have known this chant. But now, we need to retire it... just as they retire a jersey or a number, we need to retire the chant because without Sachin it has no meaning.
A quick lunch after the match and the conversation turned to Sachin all over again. Dravid chose not to have a farewell like this, Ganguly didn't get the chance, VVS Laxman... it almost seemed like he retired in a huff. Now, Sachin is gone too.
We like and admire Dhoni but will any other cricketer be loved as much as Sachin. Generations -- not a generation -- grew up watching and idolising him and as good as Dhoni is, he has been around only since December 2004. It's not even been 10 years. With Sachin, our conversation lasted much longer.
After lunch, we wondered whether we should walk to Wankhede once again, make our way to our seats, and then in the empty stadium, give vent to emotions with chants of 'Sachin, Sachin' once again.
But then we realised like all good things, this too had come to an end. So as we went towards Churchgate station, we suddenly shouted out 'Sachin, Sachin' and sure enough, we found the chorus too.
Updated Date: Nov 17, 2013 08:35:40 IST