This is a work of fiction, written in hope that you will find some sense in the humor. Idea is not to insult any individual. Any sentiments hurt are deeply regretted. Here is the part 1 of this series.
“You don’t wake up Sehwag, definitely not like that. He has been sleeping for last two years, I mean two hours and no one has had the courage to wake him up. So I apologize to you on his behalf. Let’s make a new beginning” said Dhoni.
It had taken him two hours to placate Arnab and finally he succeeded. “Okay” said Arnab.
Arnab entered the dressing room with Dhoni.
“Sir, Bhuwneshwar” said a youngster.
“No, not today” Arnab replied “I am busy here for the entire day. Do I have an appointment in Bhubaneswar, BTW?”
“No Sir, not Bhubaneswar. I Bhuwneshwar, Sir”
“Oh, you are the new kid on the block, the new going-to-be Kapil Dev. How are you Mr. Kumar?”
“Fine sir. Laddoo sir, home made from Thaggu ke Laddoo” said Kumar while offering him Laddoos.
“See ladies” said Arnab while Chawla blushed “and gentlemen. Oh, I am sorry. It is a game of men, gentlemen. Gentlemen, look at this young kid. Coming from the land of natural resources, coming from the city which transformed the great Emperor Asoka, coming from the place not well known to groom cricketers, he has made it. He is real India – coming from the place India lives. People of India live in small towns, gentlemen. It is where the soul of India lives. So Bhuwneshwar, tell me. How was it growing up in Bhubaneswar, the Kalinga, and dreaming about playing for India?”
“Actually Arnab, he is not from Bhubaneswar. He is from Kanpur” Dhoni whispered in his ears.
“Oh I know that. I was just joking. See, this is real India. Someone is born in Kanpur and carries the name of another city. This is India – unity in diversity and vice versa” Arnab continued his speech “Do you guys know what everyone wants to see? What people of India want to see? They want to see a fight. They want to see you getting up on your feet and punching it back. They want to see you winning. People of India, whole 1.25 billion and counting, want to see you put up a fight and winning. This, gentlemen, is your duty. This, gentlemen, has to be your destiny. You have to fight gentlemen, fight. You have to win. There is no other option”
Arnab stood in a pose – hands half stretched, looking down at an angle of 30 degrees, and his face was bearing a really serious look. His nostrils looked tight and his spectacles had slipped down his nose. He just stood there holding that pose.
Suddenly everyone stood up and started to clap. Arnab heard it and thought - Yes, I have made them move. Yes, I have touched their conscience. Yes, I have motivated them.
“Okay gentlemen, calm down. I know that was a motivating speech but no claps please” said Arnab while asking everyone to sit down.
“Actually Arnab, it was not for you. Paaji has come” said Gambhir.
Sachin had entered the room and was exchanging pleasantries with everyone.
“Aaila, Arnab. How are you?” said Sachin.
“I am fine Mr Tendulkar. How are you?”
“Not too bad. So you are the new coach, eh?”
“Yes Mr Tendulkar. In such an illustrious career, I am sure you would have seen many coaches. Maybe I will be your last coach” said Arnab with a wink.
“Oh yes. I don’t know which number would be higher, number of coaches I have seen or the number of years I have played. Why do you think that you might be my last coach? Is BCCI going to do away the policy of coaches?”
“I like you sense of humor, Mr Tendulkar” said Arnab “Gentlemen; you are in presence of greatness, absolute greatness. And I am deeply impressed by the respect you have shown to this man. He happens to be an honorable member of parliament too. By showing respect to him, you have shown respect to the constitution of our democracy”
“I am no civics expert, Arnab but I am sure constitution gives equal respect to everyone” said Sachin.
“See, see the humility this man has. Thank you Mr Tendulkar, it is always a pleasure meeting you”
“Please call me Sachin. I insist”
“Okay, Sachin it would be. But let me thank you on behalf of people of India. If you weren’t there, we wouldn’t have witnessed greatness. If you weren’t there, gaucherie of 90s wouldn’t have turned into mastery of 2000s. Thank you Sachin”
“It has been a pleasure to serve this nation, Arnab. BTW, you were telling something about BCCI doing away with the policy of coaches” inquired Sachin.
“No, no. I didn’t mean it. What I meant was that you will retire soon. Hence I am most likely to be your last coach”
“I don’t know Arnab about my retirement. I am not thinking about it”
“What? You are not going to retire? You want to continue playing even at this age?”
“I will give up the day I think I don’t love this game anymore”
“Okay. For the sake of your love, you will continue playing and block the way of an upcoming, talented youngster” said Arnab which made Rohit Sharma nod “That is so selfish”
“No Arnab. Retiring on a high is selfish. I am not on a high. I will give up when I think I can no longer contribute”
“Contribute? Did I hear the word contribute? You know Sachin, off late your only contribution has been towards James Anderson’s wicket column. I am not going to be fooled by this contribution logic. People of India are not going to be fooled by this contribution logic. When are you going to retire?”
“Arnab, as far as retirement is concerned, it is my decision. If you think I am not good enough to claim a place in the side, drop me” said Sachin with his usual smile.
“So you are daring me to drop you. An honorable member of parliament is daring me to drop him. Mr Tendulkar, is that a threat? Are you threatening the journalism in this country? Are you threatening the freedom of expression of citizens of this country?” Arnab’s pitch was getting a raise.
“No Arnab. All I was saying is that if you don’t find me good enough, drop me”
“Mr Tendulkar, this is the problem we have. We don’t understand roles. It is selector’s job to pick or drop a player. I am the coach. I cannot do that”
“Let them do it”
“Okay. I ask the selectors of Indian cricket team. I, on behalf of people of India, demand an answer from the national selectors. Do they have courage to drop this man? The question I ask is - how long we can go on picking people on records made in distant past. How long we can keep compromising on young talent in order to keep big names in the side. How long we can keep picking incompetency in the name of reputation? How long the people of India are going to tolerate this, how long?”
“Are you calling me incompetent?” wondered Sachin. He couldn’t believe he had heard it.
“Mr Tendulkar, the way team has performed in last year and a half, entire team is incompetent. We don’t deserve such bunch of an inefficient, incapable, non-committal, incompetent and surrendering people. People of India don’t deserve this. We just don’t” said Arnab and stood in his usual pose – serious face, looking down at an angle of 30 degrees, arms half stretched, nostrils testing their ductility and spectacles hanging at the tip of his nose, “Maybe Mr Bedi was right. Maybe Mr Bedi was ahead of his time. If any team needs to be thrown into the Pacific Ocean, it is this”
“Arnab, I take offence. This is an insult” there are very few things which could make Sachin angry and questioning his commitment was one of them.
Arnab was so focused on Sachin that he had almost forgotten the others. Only if he had paid attention to their faces, he would have realized the trouble he was in.
Arnab had given the players a bitter pill of truth to swallow. In last years and a half, they had become accustomed to it. Arnab had battered their ego. Not much was left any how after what had happened in last year and a half. Players were fine with it. Continued failure had made them quite a pachyderm.
But Arnab had crossed the line. He had insulted their God, the God. And they heard their God admit the fact that he had been insulted. They may not have been a master in English but the line “This is an insult” was something they had learnt pretty well in last one year and a half.
While they could live with them being insulted, God was beyond any insult. Not even their opponents had shown the guts to do it. It was blasphemy. It was a crime, serious crime.
While Arnab’s stay in the dressing room had created a bubble, Sachin’s last word acted as a needle which had pricked it.
The bubble had exploded.
“#$$$$!@#$@!#$ Arnab Dude. Forget dunking us in Pacific Ocean; let me dunk you in what Pacific Ocean contains” said Virat and poured a bucket full of water over Arnab. Gambhir, Ishant and Dinda followed.
Arnab was soaking wet in water. If that wasn’t enough, everyone started calling him Papa, Papa. He had absolutely no idea about why people were calling him Papa.
It is then when I realized. My kids had thrown water on me to wake me up so that I could take them to the park and play with them – it was a usual weekend routine.
It is then when I realized. Once the match had gotten over last night, I started watching “News Hour with Arnab Goswami” on Times Now and dozed off.
It is then when I realized. It was all part of a dream. Nothing of this sort ever happened.
The sun was shining and it was time to go through the morning rituals.
Off I went.
PS: Events in this post are based on a dream I had and discussions I had surrounding that dream. This is a complete work of fiction. Any sentiments hurt are deeply regretted.