Would you like to be reborn an Indian?
Batsmen walk out into the middle alone. Not Tendulkar. Every time Tendulkar walks to the crease, a whole nation, tatters and all, marches with him to the battle arena. A pauper people pleading for relief, remission from the lifelong anxiety of being Indian, by joining in spirit their visored saviour. Wednesday or Friday, Tendulkar lifts his gleaming bat, points it like a sword towards the TV cameras after his customary hundred, and a million hands go up in blessing; and in begging, pleading silently for redemption from the oppressive reality of their existence; seeking a moment’s liberation from their India-bondage through the exhilarating grace of one accidental bat. One billion hard-pressed Indians. Just one hero…
The poor Indian lifts his hands to Sachin Tendulkar in supplication: give us respite, a sense of liberation; lift us up from the dark pit of our lives to well-lit places of the imagination with your skill-wrought perfections. Give us an idea of what a light thing life ought to be. Take our blessings; but give is a break. Please win. Win for us losers.
-Excerpt from an article titled “Would you be like to be reborn an Indian?” – C.P.Surendran (The Sunday Times of India – 26th April 1998)
Future historians and those born after the mid-nineties will be flummoxed by the unhealthy deification of merely a sportsperson.
Some sense can be made from the points put forth in Ramachandra Guha’s ‘A corner of a foreign field‘, the above excerpt has been sourced from the same book.
“Sporting nationalism has always been most intense where there is a general feeling of insecurity and inferiority…the ruthless rout of the English in the 1898 Ashes campaign, has done, more to enhance the cause of Australian nationalism than could ever be achieved by miles of erudite essays and impassioned appeals.”
Whether true or false, imagine being anointed as the personification of pride for any set of people, let alone a country of 1 Billion. Blows your mind.