He is batting on 38. The play would resume soon - in six hours or so. It may well be the last time he bats. Or is it? Well, chances of West Indies making India bat again look lesser than my chances of playing for India.
It could well be the last time. It will be.
15th November 1989 it was when I made an excuse of feeling feverish. It didn’t work. I was sent to school. But it didn’t work. I pretended to have not seen the bus at the bus stop, missed it and came back home. I remember my mom scolding me for that. I don’t remember being perturbed by the scolding, though. I watched the match but don’t remember if it was because of Sachin. No, it wasn’t. All I wanted to do was watch cricket. I didn’t really know who he was. All that mattered was cricket.
It is 15th November 2013 today. 24 years have gone by like somebody fast forwarded a movie.
We didn’t have a phone back then at home. I have four cell phone connections and a landline connection in my name today – for myself and family.
If we needed to withdraw money, we used to go to the bank, fill up the withdrawal slip, get that gold token and wait for our respective turns at the cashier’s counter. I don’t remember when the last time I visited a branch of my bank was. The currency has become electronic now is what they say.
India didn’t have any real political party other than congress in those days. We have them in every nook and corner now. People are expecting an infant political party, formed by so called citizens troubled by the corruption in the country to make government in Delhi.
The “scenes” in movie Parinda had created a furore. I am not sure how many have seen BA Pass.
DD was all we had. So big is the number of channels on TV these days that we really don’t remember how many we have.
Rs 64 million worth Bofors scam was denting the image of a prime minister who came to politics reluctantly. If you are told someone did a scam of inflation adjusted Rs 64 crores in this age, you would prefer to listen to the joke on a would-be prime minister who looks so reluctant to shoulder any responsibility.
The world was different back then. We have so many things these days that we didn’t have then – some of them weren’t even imagined then. Like Sunny Leone.
On contrary, I had something in those days which I don’t have now. I don’t have a TV at home.
I bumped into an Australian colleague in office who asked, “How are you mate? How is it going?”
“Nervous. Sachin’s last test. It could well be the last time he bats today” I replied.
“Oh, I thought he has retired already. Hasn’t he?”
“I thought people knew cricket in Australia. Don’t they? Oh I forgot. You aren’t winning anymore these days” I said and walked off.
I tell a colleague of mine who is staying in a hotel, “Today I am not going to work after 3. I will take your room’s keys and off I will be”. Obviously, he wouldn’t be staying in a hotel which didn’t have TVs in its rooms.
“We have a meeting at 4” is his reply.
“Oh damn” is what I say.
Would he survive till then, till lunch, till tea?
Would I survive the tension? Yes. How?
“Don’t worry. He will be out first ball” he says and laughs. I feel like breaking all 32 teeth of his, all of them, one by one.
Clock ticks 3:00 PM. It is 9:30 AM in India. The match has started.
“Can you call up Sunil? You have his number” says my colleague.
I search for Sunil in my phonebook. There is nobody called Sunil in my phonebook. How can it happen? I remember storing his number yesterday. I search by the surname. I find it.
In place of Sunil Patel, I had stored it as Sachin Patel.
The match starts. Oh my dear Cricinfo, what would have I done without you. Alas, you don’t show it live. Reading commentary on Cricinfo feels like watching high quality porn. It gives you all the excitement but frustrates you to the core – your desire for real actions increases by multiple notches.
I send this comment to Cricinfo. They don’t publish in in their commentary. Damn you Cricinfo.
People start telling me on chat that they are at home watching cricket. Is anybody working in India today is what I wonder.
“Cut. Shot. God. Four” tells a friend. I respond by a sad smiley. He sends back a laughing smiley.
I frantically search for live streaming site. Starcricket tells me, “This video is not available in your geography”. My hatred for geographies grows leaps and bounds.
I post on Facebook for help. Help starts pouring in. But none of the sites work. A friend on facebook reminds me about Starcricket’s website. I inform him that the site doesn’t let live stream in Australia. People wonder on my timeline, “Oh all the days, you chose today to be there?”
I console myself, “It’s all fate. One cannot fight fate”. Screw fate.
A colleague says, “Let’s go on fourth floor. We get wi-fi there. I shall download the material I need to. We will have tea and come back”
Soon, we are on fourth floor. I am restless like hell. I tell him, “I can download it on my machine. It will be lot faster”
“Okay. Let’s have tea then”
“Why here? We can do it on our floor” and I pull him to tenth floor.
“Okay. Let’s have tea now” he says at tenth floor.
“No. Work comes first” I tell him assertively.
“Why are you in such a hurry today?” he wonders.
By then I am back at my desk opening Cricinfo.
“Oh now I get it why you have been acting strange since morning. It is all fixed, I am telling you”
What if I fix you, now and here I feel like saying.
“Straight drive. Orgasmic. Four” I am informed on chat.
“Huge appeal. Turned down. Anjali is in the crowd. Oh, even Pappu is there” another message comes pouring in. What the hell he is doing there? Why? Looks like almost entire universe is there. I am the almost in this previous sentence.
“He taps Best on the shoulder. Best smiles” is another message on chat.
“Pujara takes a single. Crowd greets it as if he has scored a triple ton. SRT back on strike. All I can hear is Sachiiiiiiiiin-Sachiiiiiiiiin” I am sulking after reading this message on chat. You don’t get to see moments like these in highlights. You don’t get to enjoy moments like these unless you are in the moment. Golden moments aren’t repeated.
I have really lost it now.
“You can take the keys and go to my room” says my colleague.
“But the meeting?” I enquire.
“We shall send you the minutes. You can read them like big people do” I could sense sarcasm.
“No. I will attend”
“What will you do? Anyhow you aren’t here. You are at Wankhede”
“No” I say. It is hard to remember when the last time I was so assertive was. For some reason, I couldn’t leave work.
The clock ticks four. Meeting starts.
Damn. It is my laptop which was attached to the projector. Damn it. It meants no following the cricket on Cricinfo during the meeting.
Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.
Who the hell invented projectors? And why? Damn the projectors. Damn the meetings. Damn every goddamned thing. Damn it all.
The meeting begins.
I listen. I talk.
I hear nothing. I speak crap.
When will it end is what I am thinking all along.
Lucky break. Someone gets call. Phone call.
I love phone calls. Alt+tab and I am back to Cricinfo.
Oh God. Why God. It is time to say “Thank You God”
He is gone long back – caught Sammy bowled Deonarine at 74.
I am going through the commentary. I am reading how it happened. I am trying to imagine how it would have happened.
It doesn’t matter now. It has happened. It has all come to an end.
I missed the entry. I missed the innings. I missed the exit. But I enjoyed the journey – a 24 year long memorable journey. What a journey it was.
Tomorrow is Saturday. I hope to see his last speech, his last lap, his last reactions and everything else. I just hope to do that.
Oh I pray to God.
God is kind hearted. Next day, my prayers are answered and I get to hear the last speech. It isn’t the last time I shall hear that speech. It isn’t the last time others will hear that speech.
That speech is going to be one of the most watched videos on youtube, ever.
But it was the last time.
Thank you again.