The name says it all.

I grew up epitomizing you, you were my Guru and inspiration outside family. You are not just a Cricket player, much more to the country as a sportsmen and so much more to millions like me as a Superstar, Master and God.

My childhood was a bouquet of your batting. Your fifties, hundreds and double hundreds used to be my bread and butter. As swashbuckling innings from you would keep the smile intact on my face for days to come and even your 20s and 30s would make me cheer like a kid with inexplicable toys in hand. My scrap books were all you, you were more important than my academics, you were my only reason to get up and watch a cricket match with Chicken pox. Eden, Lords or MCG – doesn’t matter, I will watch the game as long as I see you coming in to bat.

Your batting was my soul, you being in the 11 was good enough reason for me to watch the entire match including the commentary that talks about your replays. Your presence in the field meant adrenaline unlimited for me and the team. You are my ‘Bahubali’ plus ‘The Dark Knight’.
You were Sachin and for me, your name gave me goosebumps.

Your cover drives made me topple with joy, your flick was my life’s sweetest menace, your on drive was a delight to savor and your straight drive made me go crazy. It was not the strokes that made me fall in love with you, it was ‘You’ and the batting in ‘You’ that made all the difference in a world of meandering cricketers. ‘Sachin’ isn’t a name for me, you were my lifeline.

I remember most of your epics, your test centuries, your ODI gems, your World Cup exploits in 1996 and 2003. Your debut, your birthday, your first ODI century – some of the very few dates I remember in my life outside family. For me, they are not dates. They remind me of your legend, your batting, your iconic aura and the magic of God.
As Harsha aptly said – ‘Absolutely Divine’.

I yelled at my mother as I was extremely upset over your dismissal in the 2003 WC final and my mother has still not forgiven me for my innocent burst of anger. At that point, I and India were shut down. And that’s an usual behavior towards any of your dismissals because I never believed that you can fail. And, you taught me to succeed.

Your discipline is a subject of awe for me. Your humility stuns me, your simplicity is contagious and your aura inspires me.

Cricket is still being played, we still have superstars and the game is still very popular.

But, for me, there will never be another Sachin.
And, since, Cricket has never been the same for me.

As the planet says, Happy Birthday!

For a very long time, I never realised the town had a different name. For me, it never mattered. It was her place of residence and that is all we knew during our growing up days. For us, it was enough. In fact, me and my sister never cared to know her name as well, for a very long time. Again, it doesn’t matter as names and relationships don’t always go hand in hand. Not for me, not for my sister either. She was our dear Granny, my mother’s mother and there lies the inherent respect that we derived and which deemed to exist forever.

We visited her and grandfather during our summer vacations, once in a couple of years. We lived far away but the connect was somewhere, ethereal to say the least. My grandfather was a reputed personality in the adjoining areas surrounding the town and widely respected. I and my sister used to be in awe of the palatial house they lived in and where my mother was born and raised. I am still in awe of that place, I don’t think we can afford to build a house like that in the city, even in today’s economical surge of possessions. The other day, I told my wife that the kitchen in the house used to be the size of our master bedroom, so it’s now easier for you to understand why we were so awe struck. She was the queen of the house and we all ran around like scattered pedestals from a garden of blooming flowers.

The house was perhaps the starting point for the current generation in our family that has grown up and is established in different parts of the world. Our cousins lived in different places and our visit was similar to a reunion – catch up, play pranks, have fun, irritate and disturb my grandfather’s afternoon siesta, and get the flak for it as well. But, nothing changed as our granny used to be at the back of us, supporting our trivial acts of childhood. All that and more, today belongs to the world of folklore.

I will never quote as being very close to her. Distance is one factor, second we did not belong to the classic generation where a spate of people lived under the same roof – grandparents, parents, cousins, relatives. But, the little moments spent with her during our early years will we etched as golden moments in our lives.

As we grow older, she grew old as well. Ironically, the sad part in the happiness of we growing up is the difficult episode of watching our parents growing old. Inevitable and excruciatingly believable, painful at the same time. She went through a similar phase, we lost our grandfather few years back which obviously was a big jolt in her life. From being the queen of independent living, I saw the transition that relegated her to the confines of four walls and very few people around her. Not that love diminished, it’s just that times were changing and she was part of the usual escapade.

With a life lived long enough to watch her children and grandchildren grow up and leading a fulfilling life, were indeed the high points of her illustrious life. Most significantly, her contribution is unsurpassable as we don’t exist if she doesn’t. A unhinged legacy.

Some people don’t leave us, they just distance themselves to keep vigil and see that we are safe. A mother is irreplaceable and her loss will be felt. As for her influence in our lives, time will make the statement at an apt hour of realisation (it does already!).

mayavaram-paatti

Paatti, please rest in peace and help us to remain blessed.

There are human beings with talent and proficiency, there are ordinary individuals who come out of their inhibitions and limitations to carve a niche for themselves in the tough gritty world of glorious pursuits. And then, we have actors like Om Puri.

Rugged face, turmoil expressions and a non fancy appeal. Yet, what stood behind was one of the finest that we could ever withdraw from. At a time when we shied away from what was called as ‘Parallel Cinema’, Om Puri made his mark with some iconic acts in films like Aakrosh and Ardh Satya. The latter, was a film ahead of its time. Attacking our system embroiled in corruption, bureaucracy and nepotism, Ardh Satya had some powerful performances from its lead actors – Om Puri, Smita Patil and Sadashiv Amrapukur. in fact, Om Puri had some memorable outings with landmark directors like Govind Nihalani and Satyajit Ray. Kundan Shah’s Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron was a film acknowledged as one of its kind that enjoys cult status today. In fact, associated actors with JBDY look at awe when this film features in the classic bandwagon. Om Puri played a typical modern opportunist and excelled in a small but crucial role. Another Nihalani favourite is Drohkaal, which saw Om Puri playing a cop who infiltrates with his team in to the web of a dangerous terrorist organisation. Nothing glamorous but Om Puri was a class apart.

Our generation has seen very little of Om Puri, which is quite unfortunate. His characters depicted on screen swayed magic and while our character actors always tend to get overshadowed in an industry that’s ruled by Superstars, actors like Om Puri held their own despite very little going for them in terms of roles, weightage and attention. Post 90s, he was one of the very few to cross boundaries juggle between Mumbai and the west in versatile and unconventional avatars. Interestingly, films like Ghayal, Chachi 420, Hera Pheri and Gupt made us realise how we bracketed and dumped a top notch mainstream actor in to a shell of meagre opportunities and ventures.

The world of cinema will not come to a standstill albeit outpourings of condolences but the industry just became poorer with the loss of a titan like Om Puri.

Inseparable love, indomitable pose, blessing in abundance, the queen of all triumphs.

Year on year, she is the sanity check of our lives, and the hope that evil will die, sometime, someday. Perhaps, forever.

The epitome of goodness, she is a sign of redemption for the self destructive urban bane.

She came, she conquered, she left with a poise and promise. We are left behind, with an equally daunting promise to deliver and keep the fervor alive.