Sach were the joys
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Why Sachin Tendulkar remains the happy connect between childhood memories and adult milestones.
The almaari door swayed, gently clinking the metal keys hanging from the keyhole. More importantly, the safe was unattended, a rare moment of negligence by the napping grandmother. The safe was a treasure trove for a nine-year-old boy growing up in suburban Bombay, holding everything from Ravalgaon mints to match boxes for incense sticks, old photographs to sepia newspaper cuttings, a brutally disfigured He-Man action figure that was often confiscated, to a few glass marbles.
It also held some money.
On this day, the first of a long and lazy summer holiday in 1995, peppermints and action figures could wait. The co-conspirator (an 11-year-old boy from the building's second floor), the BEST (90 ltd) from Chembur to Churchgate and Sachin Tendulkar at the Wankhede Stadium couldn't.
While the grandmother snoozed on this simmering afternoon, it was lunch on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final, played between Bombay and Punjab. And Tendulkar, informed the restless friend, had already reached his 50. If we were to get there in time by tea, he added, a 10-rupee note must be stolen. Now!
It was and the journey was made (Rs 2 one-way per minor) along with a transistor, the one lifted from the friend's flat. The match was attended (free of charge) and translucent packets of flavoured ice (known simply as Pepsi, 50p for the large packet) were bought. All these delicate firsts, the thrill of flicking, travelling alone in post-riot Bombay and entering a real cricket stadium, would give my buddy and me plenty to boast about to the other kids in the colony. But what really immortalised us in their eyes were none of the above.
It was the fact that we had seen Sachin. In the flesh.
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