Saturday, April 02, 2011

Beyond the golden urn

So that's that. And we have the golden urn once again. And it doesn't end there.

The last few weeks have been an excellent avenue for columnists to mass-hypnotize a humongous audience and it is not surprising that they had milked it dry. I had run across many an article that elaborates why cricket is a religion in India. Numerous theories were churned out to proffer explanations about how a sport could bind a billion strong nation. Look at it from a hundred feet and it's just another game involving a few people. Generation after generation have warned us about the banality that surrounds the sport and how fragile the sentiments behind it are. It is also imperative that a sport cannot feed a country that has been fighting hard to establish itself on the world map. It was a dream come true for an entire nation all the same. A billion hearts beat as one today. And therefore we needed to win.

A friend of mine said she felt a sense of belonging every time India plays cricket and the things people do when they are passionate about something. There cannot be anything more honest than that statement. The thinkers have put it simply - the nation needed something to cheer about, to be passionate about, something that would help sail through disappointments that each individual is facing every moment in his life. And thus Cricket became a religion and Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar its God. A religion to a country in which you have to constantly compete - compete to progress, compete to prosper, compete to survive. We have to constantly fight against dominance from the rest of the world, fight against our own systems, fight against bureaucracy, fight against corruption, fight against mediocrity, fight for pride. A mere outlet for our passion in the form of a sport would never suffice. And therefore we needed to win.

While it is plain that cricket has been the glue that binds Indians together, a billion people coming from all obscure parts of life, it has remained just a symbol of hope and not of confidence. It is true that the flame had burned bright at times, but never consistent enough. And no, I'm not speaking of just cricket, but of a spectrum beyond it. We needed much more than a faint 'hope' to cling on to, something that can inspire us, motivate us, give us something to cheer for and aspire. And therefore we needed to win.

Today is definitely going down as one of the most historic days in Indian sports. Today is the day when we declared that the heroes of 1983 are not legends. We can do a better job of what they did earlier. They too are mortals and today, we ground them. Today, we declared that it wasn't just a lucky chance that we won. Today, we declared our will and grit to compete, fight till the finish. Neither was it an associate nation that we beat on our way, nor was it a result of a contrived complex interplay of politics. We blasted our way through the champions of the game and resoundingly declared that we are no less. And therefore we needed to win.

We needed to show, we learn from mistakes. We needed to show, we have the consistency and courage to stand up, aspiration to succeed. We needed to show that we do not merely stand and stare. This transformation in Team India wasn't an overnight process. It started ten years ago with a man who ripped off his shirt at Lord's and declared his grit and will to win.  And we never looked back. The last decade stands an immutable testimony. And today, we needed to show that irrespective of the future, we shall keep our will to compete burning bright as ever. And therefore we needed to win.

It is totally justified if you think of this to be a thought of mine that comes from the heat of the moment, a flash of inspiration that comes from passion rather than an instilled confidence. Trust me, I have been waiting for this right moment for a long time. I have had times of quiet satisfaction and pride when I have seen India stand up and command its authority and will to fight. How many of us remember our shooters and pugilists quietly wrapping up accolades in the Olympic events over the past decade? We had a time when India was huffing and puffing about a single medal that we won "long long ago, nobody knows how long ago" and now are at a stage where we take as many as 10 for granted every time. How many times have we been able to afford a contented chuckle when a coach from a pugilist powerhouse like Cuba comes over to the changing room and says, "I'm certain your boy would win the bout hands down".  We needed to show it wasn't just in a bunch of sporting events that we are competing. We needed to show that it is our indomitable spirit to compete and progress as a professional and as a peer to the rest of the world. And therefore we needed to win.

We all connect to cricket in a way that we do not connect with any other. Shedding their differences in social or economic status, Indians unite when it comes to cricket. We identify ourselves with cricket to the extent that we feel actually feel good about ourself when Team India wins. We let our thoughts and spirits fly high with intensity when we watch our team play. The Men In Blue resounded the nation's spirit today at the Wankhede Stadium. And then they lifted it. At that moment we realized what we gained was much beyond just the golden urn.