It is going to be a big, fat Indian wedding after all

Sachin TendulkarSand artist Rajesh Muliya gives final touches to the sand sculpture of Sachin Tendulkar in Thangadh, Gujarat on Wednesday to wish him good luck for his last 200th test match (PTI)

Dear Sachin Tendulkar,

In the language that you and I occasionally lapse into there is a very simple expression. After a good meal, which you so enjoy, after a nice family get-together, we say "maja aali". We had fun. It is often said with a contented smile and a gentle shake of the head. To a lot of people your last test is a sad event but I am not so sure because we must all go and when the time comes, think of the good times we left behind rather than the uncertain ones ahead. As I look back over the last 24 years, all those great innings played, those challenges countered, those dreams achieved, I'll choose just two words for you Sachin. "Maja aali!".

I have been seeing statistics all over and while they are stunning they tell only a part of the picture. Your batting has been analysed to death and the numbers you generated memorised by young men all over the world. But I have long believed, not just with you but with your other outstanding teammates like VVS Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and the like, that the person you are determines the cricketer you become. At various times in your career, when you were batting like a dream and when you were battling like just another cricketer, you never lost sight of who you were. That I think was actually the making, and the sustenance, of you.

Just a couple of days ago, on a hangout (these new things, you must wonder, for even the internet wasn't around when you started in test cricket!) I was asked if there was one word that best described you. The most obvious were "genius", "legend", "master", oh so many, but the one that came instantly to mind was "humble". About life but most distinctly, about the game you adored. I remember that Pepsi commercial where they gave you a fly swatter and you were shown hammering cricket balls with it..and you said it would be disrespectful and asked for it to be reshot with a cricket bat. I remembered when you spoke with such feeling, to the young players at the Mumbai Indians camp about putting the game first. And I remembered so many years ago in your Sahitya Sahawas house when Anjali popped in to make tea and you put out the cups..it could have been any middle class family.

... contd.

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