6th November 2009
The defining moment of the 5th ODI between Australia and India at Hyderabad was not the stupendous 175 of Sachin Tendulkar when India batted chasing Australia’s 351. It wasn’t his partnership with Suresh Raina, or that India couldn’t finish a close game.
It happened on the last ball of the Australian innings. At 350 for 3, Chris White lofts a ball deep into the outfield. 36 year old Sachin Tendulkar, runs yards from the boundary and flings himself full length, dives forward, and pulls off a terrific catch just inches off the ground. How did it matter? A wicket didn’t matter on the last ball, and if you saw the rest of the Indian team - drooping shoulders, long faces, bowlers pitching poorly and the fielders looking ragged, the match seemed over. Such an effort, which could hurt the body to stop one run - when “out” didn’t matter?
It wasn’t even the catch.. it was the reaction after He got up.. he flung the ball away and the jaw was clenched .. if you could read it … the jaw said it all …. “Aussies the game isn’t over … we are yet to bat …”
As the teams trooped off the field - my daughter called me for a rare game of basket ball … was tempted … but then refused .. … I needed to see what that jaw meant …
What unraveled next from Sachin’s bat were lessons geniuses have for us lesser mortals. To believe in you in spite of incredible odds - and that nothing is over till the last ball is bowled. And as he showed yesterday, belief must be followed by hard work and ruthless execution.
The greater lesson of course, is that sometimes the best too will fail, as Sachin couldn’t quite take India to victory,,, but there is always another game …so keep the chin up and the smile going!
At home these days, I have another man who lives up to these beliefs.
My brother in law, Gokul, was diagnosed with brain tumour and lung cancer on the 25th of May 2009. On the 26th of May, a clutch of eminent doctors of Max hospital, Saket told him he had had two strokes already, his brain was 97 % infected and one lung hadn’t worked for two years. They also gently told him that he had about 45 days left on earth.
Its six months now - he has never ever sat on a wheel chair, never blamed anyone for his situation, never ever stopped smiling through his painful radiation and chemotherapy, and never let the jaw drop … he believes though, that he will survive and live well into the future.
It’s been a pleasure to have him home and keep his company …
As Winston Churchill said in his remarkable speech at Harrow in 1941, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, Never, - Ever - Give In!
26th of Feb 2010
Sachin plays a remarkable knock of 200 in the second ODI with South Africa. The innings now leads India to victory; he plays beautiful and straight, with great style and dignity and with the chin well up, he then speaks with great humility in the post match conference, dedicating the win to his countless of fans who stood by him, through thick and thin.
1st of Mar 2010
Gokuls body suddenly gave up on his spirit. He died in a Dubai hospital just two days after he was admitted. He left Delhi on the 5th of Feb, all that medical science could do, was done. He left on his feet, unbelievably cheerful; with his chin well up, even when he told me – “the game is up!” - and that we may not meet again. He stayed on his feet till two days before he died - asking to speak to his brother and sister on the 28th of Feb.
Sachin was merely playing a cricket game, while Gokul was fighting for his life – but if sport is often a parody of the human condition. Gokul death taught us many lessons of life, - to always stay cheerful whatever life throws at you, to fight hard when the times are tough, and while you will win some and lose some - stay humble but keep the chin up - and at the end of the day – life too is just a game – one can never take it too seriously…