I would have remembered Sachin Tendulkar’s debut vividly had Doordarshan telecast it live. They caught up from the third Test, but no one in India got to see the debut live.
Tendulkar had fans from the very beginning. Unlike Gavaskar and Kapil, among whom the fans were divided, Tendulkar was universally loved. Men, women, boys, girls, rich, middle-class, poor.
Tendulkar was India's first universally accepted cricket hero.
Tendulkar became a household name, and more importantly, a household face, in the early 1990s, an era that matched with my teens.
The adulation was fine with me, but for one section of them: the mothers.
The mothers had a curious attitude towards Tendulkar. They often expressed themselves in baby-talk when it came to Tendulkar. There were some who did not, but the affection, the concern was there in most.
They wanted him to be well-fed. They wanted him to be safe on tours. He was suddenly the son of thousands of mothers. You would have thought he was a little boy (of course, that boyish look sans facial hair helped).
This baffled me, for Tendulkar is older to me.
My mother, for example, always thought Tendulkar was a boy who needed to be taken care of while I was the "when will you act your age?" one.
I should ideally have felt jealous. I would have, had I understood what was going on. I was baffled.
And all that vanished around the mid-1990s, when he was, well, a "grown-up"; I am not sure when, but that was the approximate era.
Trust me, this had happened across households, across the nation, to boys of my age.
I never got the reason. I still do not get it. Why would one be concerned about someone who is taken care of, efficient, and successful?
While I admired Tendulkar as much as any boy of my age did, this kept bugging in my mind.
I had vowed to myself that *I* would confuse my daughter the same way when she is in her teens.
I sincerely hope she makes the same vow when she understands my feelings for Kohli.
Happy birthday, little Virat. Happy birthday, captain.