I started watching cricket in 1991 or thereabouts - the buzz was around this fresh faced, young boy - a few years older than me, but certainly a contemporary, who was already been touted as the "One to watch".
And for almost twenty years, the world has watched - poetry in motion, the cricketing God, the one-only-next to Bradman - the praises have been so many and yet, none enough to describe who you are and what you mean to the ordinary joe or jane in the street.
You have stood for hope, when the country had nothing much to look forward to. You have stood for purity and what is right and pristine in a chaotic time. You have stood for passion in a country starved for heroes. You have stood for perfection in an imperfect world.
I have felt so many emotions watching you over the years - heady exhiliration at a sweetly timed cover drive, I have wept tears of joy when you led India to yet another victory, heartbreak and anguish when you were caught behind, and vitriolic anger against the umpire who dared give you a dodgy lbw, the odd vicarious brag ("Oh Sachin's house is right next to my college in Bandra"). But I have never felt the exasperation which say a Dravid used to occasionally elicit ( though I am a big fan of his as well) and never, ever disappointment.
Yesterday, watching you yet again, on a song, I felt another emotion - privilege - that I was born in the same generation as you and that I could actually watch you through all these years as a contemporary. That my growing years coincided with yours - and therefore, I could watch it with the same intense passion with which you played ( unlike the detachment I feel when I see the cricketers today) . And privilege that I have indeed witnessed genius.
When you are on , the world stops to watch.
P.S. Very gushy,incoherent post aiyo. *Blush*. But got very senti last night.Pliss excuse