To begin with, however, let's state the obvious. Or, for the benefit of the guy holding up the poster, the not-so-obvious. Sachin Tendulkar may be worshipped by a sizable population of this country, but he is not God. There is no evidence to suggest that God does actually bat at number 4 for any side, or even plays the game. And even if he did, I would think he'd be more of a bowler than a batsman. For someone who routinely sends down thunderbolts from the skies, there's no saying what he'd do with a little red ball. (Right arm, around the sun, please) But I digress.
There are a lot of lessons to be learned here. Yes, the mob can be fickle, and the public's memory is often short. It is perhaps also a reminder that Glory, like Fame and almost everything else, is fleeting. But above all, it is a testament to our collective ignorance. How else do you explain the crowd's behavior towards one of their own?
It is true; there is a palpable sense of expectancy every time he walks out to the middle. We wait, with bated breath, like children at a magic show. We hope, fervently, for something special to distract us momentarily from the dull routine of our everyday lives. Across the country, people of all ages fall sick. Exams, work, dinner, it can all wait, Sachin was on strike.
But what is it based on, this adoration? Was it merely our own selfish desire to be entertained? Do we raise our heroes merely to watch them fall? In ancient Rome, spectators cheered while gladiators clubbed helpless slaves to death, and then laughed when they in turn got mauled by lions. It is an indication of how little has changed when a man - feted and glorified across the world - gets ridiculed on his own turf. All because the paying public didn’t get their 250 rupees worth. For a nation that celebrates one bronze at the Olympics, we are surprisingly unforgiving.
What is it that makes us refuse to acknowledge greatness? Is genius just a passing fancy; are we temporarily impressed and then, just as easily, bored? Or are we so foolish as to believe that perhaps we are all the same? Ashes and dust we may all be, but every once in a while someone special comes along and performs superhuman acts that the rest of us only dream of, and few hope to achieve. Sachin Tendulkar is one such man. For eighteen years he has brought us joy, fuelled our dreams. Yes, he is only human, at times painfully so. But even so, we need to feel blessed to witness the precious gift he possesses. Instead of mocking him, we need to stand in awe of his greatness. If for nothing else, at least because such people make us believe that we can be great too.