“Sachin has retired. Why are you sad then?” asked she.
“Leave it. You won’t understand” he replied.
“No tell me. I want to. You hardly ever tell me anything. You hardly ever talk to me. I think you no longer love me,” she said in one single breath.
He just stared at her.
“Then tell me why you are sad.” she insisted.
“It is because he is retiring”
“Big deal? People retire every day. My dad is retiring next month. Oh that reminds me, we need to buy a gift for him”
“No offence but it is Sachin who is going to retire. Oh yes, I will order the gift”
“What is so special about him and his retirement” she asked.
“Well it is because of him I really kept following the game. I have so many childhood and young age memories attached to him. Once he goes, all those memories will be put to rest” he tried answering. Although deep down his heart, he knew he did not have an answer to it. Most of the times you know the reasons behind your sadness. That is easy to handle. The problem is quantifiable and the solution is possible. Sometimes, you do not really know the reason behind your sadness. In such case, nothing but time provides the healing solution. Till it is healed, you are in inexplicable pensive mood.
“Okay I think I understand. However, tell me something, memories are still memories. They cannot be put to rest no matter if he retires or not”
“You tell me something. Every time you and your friend Seema meet, you tell me that how you people talk about your childhood and how you enjoy the flashback time. Do you think about your childhood with that much jest when you are not with Seema? Your memories are always with you but it is just that your meeting with Seema lightens them up”
“No, I don’t. But looks like you thinks a lot about her” there was a bit of anger in her tone.
He paid no attention to anger, “Similarly, my memories will always be there with me. It is just that watching him bat kept them fresh. Alas, no longer now”
“Hmmmm…” she did not say anything.
“Every time I saw him bat, those memories became fresh. I could relive them. Every time someone mentions 26/11 and my mind goes back to his statement that he made after winning the test in Chennai. Every time clock ticks 1 and I think of 1:19, his first century. 1:48 reminds me of his second century and 1:14 makes me think of his third century. I can never forget that teary eyes of a sixteen year old boy who had to drag himself to the dressing room after he missed the chance of becoming youngest centurion in test cricket. Every time I get a backache, my mind wanders back to Chennai-1998. I remember how he flayed away Warne in tests. His against the spin sweep against Warne were one of the most courageous strokes I have ever seen. I will….”
“Okay, okay. This is getting too technical.” She interrupted.
“I told you. It is cricket. You won’t understand”
“That’s because you have never wanted me to understand cricket. However, I have learnt it on my own. One must learn to love the love of his love. That is what I have done,” she said with lot of firmness.
He stood there emotionless.
“Tell me something; didn’t you want him to retire? You kept saying that”
“What? I said that to you? When was the last time we talked about cricket?”
“Last evening? We talked about cricket? Really?”
“See, you don’t remember a thing you talk to me. I am nobody in your life. You don’t love me anymore”
“See, I am in no mood for all this. So cut the crap and tell me straight. What did I talk to you about cricket?” In normal circumstance, talking to her in this tone would have meant bitter gourd in next eight meals. But today was different. He was in different mood all together. He did not care about bitter gourd. He did not care about the meals. Actually he did not care about her as well.
Something bigger had happened and he cared a damn about anything.
She could sense his mood hence did not make a fuss about it. She knew that there would be many opportunities to capitalize on this blunder of his.
She responded, “Last evening. You asked me for remote because you wanted to see some old match. You know, I missed my big boss because of that”
“Oh yes, you missed all of two minutes of big boss. When did I say I wanted Sachin to retire?”
“You never did. You never talk about anything to me. You hardly talk to me. Always I make an effort to know about you. I have heard all your conversations with your friends. That’s how I know”
“Oh yes. I wanted him to. He wasn’t performing well for two years”
“But he is God, no? Who wants the God to go? Why? Blasphemy?”
“That’s why. I did not want him to come down to the levels of humans and prove he too was mortal, fallible and subjected to constant failures. He was an image larger than life in my mind. I wanted him to stay there and go. I didn’t want this humanized version of God.”
“Okay, you wanted him to go. He is going. Why the fuss?”
“Well, it is about inevitability. We all know certain events in life are inevitable but we refuse to believe in them. We never really realize that inevitability can only be delayed, it cannot be denied. Only when the realization of inevitability to be undeniable comes to fore, we realize the pains of it. It is painful”
“Oh honey. I love it when you talk like that” said she and put her head on his shoulders.
I know you say something like that when you do not get an ounce of what I am saying is what he thought. He said, “Let me give an example. Your dad must have looked for thousand of guys as your prospective groom. Especially in our society, parents start looking for grooms right from the day their daughters are born. They prepare for their daughters’ wedding for entire life. However, it is the moment marriage is fixed they realize what would follow – their daughter would leave them to enter the world of marriage. Then they start missing their daughter. They all cry whereas ideally they should be happy. If you ask them the reason for their tears, they would say that they knew such day would come but never believed it. It is the refusal to believe in knowledge of inevitability of an event. That hurts and it is bloody painful”
“I got it now. So what next? You will stop following cricket?”
“Well, no matter how much I say it on the face but deep down I know that it wouldn’t happen. That is the brutal reality of life. No matter how unimaginable life seems to be without an entity or a person, it just goes on with or without that entity or the person. Life just goes on. In fact, it looks back and laughs at you as if it is saying – What? You really thought I would change because of that. I change no matter what. That is my nature. I go on no matter what. That is my nature. Hence, you also move on” he said in a philosophical tone and grabbed the remote.
“What do you want to see on TV now?” she asked while snatching the remote from him.
“Well, I just want to check the news. Maybe they would show some old matches of his”
“Get over it. He is retiring. Learn to live in present”
“I want to watch something on TV”
“So you want to watch TV. What will you watch?” he asked in a sarcastic tone.
“Big Boss” she said and switched it on.
“I don’t understand what people see in that crappy serial or whatever that is called”
“Unlike you, I see the present. I see the reality”
“What present or reality? People abusing each other? It is all staged”
“Well, it is no stupid game of cricket. It is reality. It is about people’s lives, their true self, their love and friendship. Leave it. You won’t understand”
She turned to Big Boss. He decided to turn to his best friend – Cricinfo.