A dark auditorium on a light spring evening, the only light emanating from the big projector screen highlighted with blue and green, a hundred souls almost on the tittering edge of splitting from the bodies.. Nothing could be said about the sword hanging from the cliff. A pulse that seemed beyond humane was throbbing so hard that I was surprised it hadn't popped out yet.
And then the chieftain in the highest form steps in with such ferocity and confidence that would have had a Panthera leo wail in ignominy. That glowering eyes felt like hot ember with asperity like that of a cold sword dancing in it. I hadn't known or cared about this beast anytime in my life. All I had in mind was my pride. The pride that he could bring with his tribes to me, to my fellowmen. That, which would come off a passion that burnt in all for one reason or the other.
His authority clearly visible in the white of his eyes, took me aback for the split of the second that was shown on the screen. The danger that those eyes portrayed for the minutest second appalled the wits out of me. By the time I could recover from the power he essayed in the second, I was drowned in huge cries of joy, of pride, of faith, of persistence and of win. I barely could react to the captain's action that transformed the tottering souls into an ecstatic mob when I was downed in all the euphoria too. He had done it.. he had his mission accomplished. A serene smile with a hop was all that he let go before acknowledging the enormity. My country, needed something to be happy about. He had brought it upon us and it was a thing to look upto amidst all the muck that was happening around. I could surely imagine the heights of elation, considering I felt the pride myself, 7000 kms away from home.
I am talking about the captain of Indian cricket team that won the world cup. (Bit of reading for those who don't know about cricket ). If there is something I wouldn't forget about this world cup, it wouldn't be about Sachin Tendulkar united with “His Precious” or the wait it took to get there. It would be the skipper, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's eyes when he hit the last ball of Indian innings on the final of the world cup match. There he was standing on the brink of victory beneath pressure enforced by a billion people that would have diffused any normal man. He had fought for it. He had uplifted an entire nation's hopes that initially were buried in shambles and through all this, he stood solid, confident. Like he knew what was going to happen. How could he? And the winning shot that made even the saddest jump with joy and admiration- How did he manage to do it? He upheld a perfect timing for that six, a perfect swing of the bat and a perfect follow up. The terror in his eyes subsided only when he put his bat down after a that's-how-its-done- full swing, affirming he had hit the ball exactly where he intended. And only when I saw that clip over and over again like another billion people had, did I realize I was stunned less by that sixer and more by the way he did it. Ultimate confidence, courage, fire and desire. It showed a desire to finish things on his terms. A conviction to act according to the title he was proffered. A burning passion to do what he was expected of and what he excelled at.
I am not a gung ho fan of cricket. I like it because of the mood that its sets in when there is a win. (Will talk in another post about it). As with every other Indian, this game runs in my veins without much effort from my end. Like million others, I know its terms even though all my life I have watched only the semi's and finals of important tournaments and that too if they had India playing in them especially, Sachin Tendulkar. And naturally until then, I had no idea about the man or his actions recorded in the past. But at that moment, he was an inspiration. A leader of sorts as I read in various other articles that were true enough considering the team spirit and the zeal to win it all in this tournament. He depicted a man with an aim and showed he was tenacious enough to achieve it in grand panache.
Hardcore Cricket enthusiasts- don't get me wrong. Of course I appreciate Gambhir's almost century and Sachin's parade on his teammates shoulders. In fact, I rooted for the world cup just for Sachin. But this man, the captain, acted just the way a terrific leader does. Ofcourse, history will find many examples in this regard but to be there and actually see a leader at work inspires you at a different level. The look in those eyes will remain in probably all my years to come for that is a reminder of grit, of passion, of ability at adversity and of the true leader within.