Sesharao Krushnarao Wankhede and Ramesh Tendulkar must be proud men in heaven today - for completely different reasons. Wankhede went through turmoil to build the stadium named after him. This stadium, from today, will witness history and festivity bigger than any Brazilian carnival. Ramesh Tendulkar, the eminent Marathi poet, on the other hand, inculcated the right values in his illustrious son Sachin, who was named after legendary music director S D Burman, the father's favourite.
Pele, Daley Thompson, Carl Lewis, Diego Maradona, Bjon Borg, John McEnroe, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar - all illustrious names with great lineages in sports - called it a day after the last event. Sachin Tendulkar planned it differently and disrupted the sign off by announcing it before the current India vs West Indies series began. In the process, he did a great favour to all the editors and programming guys at media houses in India. For the last two-three weeks and for the next week or so, there is no imperative need to decide on what content forms the news. It's dominated by the various facets of his life and the innumerable lives he touched, content that creates footage. The five state elections have lost out. So have the thousands screaming to save the Campa Cola society in Mumbai. The story is similar for inflation hitting double digits or the challenges in global diplomacy with our neighbours.
However, to me, the significant achievement of Sachin's last innings is the decency that has happened because of the man's lineage in sport. Television has always been referred to as the real mirror of society; and if we were to personify television today, it is all in the negative space. It's about maliciousness, and bitterness; it's about all the wrongs and the politics of grievance. In the last fortnight, all that we saw on television and read in the papers was pleasant and positive - about the good things that happened because of a man who dominated the greens for 24 years.
Few would know that Sachin does not read the morning paper or watch television when cricket is on. Both Ravi Shastri and Dravid have confirmed this habit on national television. Cricket happens for almost 2/3rds of the year and the rest of the time is spent in travelling for it. So, all the adulation and tributes are not being seen by the man who is responsible for creating it.
The Magic of Sachin
All brands tend to oscillate between two spaces - Magic and Logic. The more a brand is skewed towards Magic, the nearer it is to being iconic. Apple, Harley Davidson, Rolex, Royal Enfield and Beatles are all brands in the Magic space. Sachin is very much in the extreme Magic space and hence the country has stopped to salute him on his last performance. It is not only because of the tons of runs and records he has piled up. Perhaps, it comes from being grounded and realising that he is smaller than the game, even if his fans feel otherwise. His humility has dwarfed all.
The Global Traffic Stopper
He is probably the only personality who could stop traffic in Johannesburg, London, Adelaide, Colombo, USA or Dibrugarh back in India. His not-so-impressive voice and diminutive size have also become his strengths, seen as a signature for being the way you are, and believing and respecting it.
Never Angry or Agitated
Again a rare sign for a sportsman. Winning in sports is all about pumping fists and surging adrenalin. Even with Sachin, there is a flow of emotion but it's always on the positive side. He has never let his displeasure or irritation show. In fact, he has silenced the worst of critics with a smile and a quote. The classic one being, "When people throw stones at you, you need to convert them into milestones." This wit and presence of mind surprised many and created reams of copy the next day. It also taught the right lesson to the critics.
The Dream Chaser
Sachin disrupted the Indian parents' routine thinking process. He made parents believe that it's important to let kids chase their passion. He metamorphosed the mindset beyond careers as doctors, engineers and architects. Sports started being treated as a career.
As the Maestro donned the whites, padded up and walked out for one last time at the Wankhede yesterday, history was created. The largest, most thunderous ovation any stadium has ever witnessed or heard continuously. The eleven West Indians lined up on the field and watched with admiration and awe the genius from Bandra East, who put India on the global sports map forever - proudly.
Tendlya, as he is fondly called by team mates and friends, will dance for one last time with the willow. As wood belts the leather to all parts of the Wankhede, the world will have witnessed euphoria unlikely to be paralleled in the future. For a change, we will forget that it's no longer a test match as, for all, it's a Sachin farewell.
The author is CEO, Melon Media.