Building a demi-god

So I’m sitting in the Garware Pavilion at the Wankhede Stadium waiting for Sachin Tendulkar to appear. The furore and the fanaticism is seriously deafening. There probably hasn’t been this much ‘fanfare’ since the British gave us independence. The gleam in people’s eyes has a mania that is at once sparkling and spooky. The expectation of the great man to score a winning century is more vital than P Chidambaram to deliver a winning budget.

Most of our Gods are in heaven. But there’s one who’s in the dressing room ready to emerge. The 26,000 people present and the one billion other Indians glued to their television sets, aren’t mere spectators awaiting a master player, they are devotees expecting their Messiah.

When he does finally walk to the middle, he is five feet above the ground with a halo the size of one of Saturn’s rings. The point is Sachin is flawed — like all of us — he was an average captain, played largely for statistics, vastly prolonged his retirement, for all his wealth is seriously ‘kanjoos’ enough to demand the finance ministry waive the customs duty off on a Ferrari. (You’re a youth icon, dude, what’re you suggesting to the young ? Take the short cut if it’s there?). There was also some FSI ‘chakkar’ about his bungalow plus he doesn’t really show up for Rajya Sabha duty. He’s just an ordinary bloke, who happens to possess this extraordinary batsmanship.

But we’ve built this fine sportsman into an Infinite Being. Transformed him into a demi-god, and in our world demi-gods have no defects. Not Tendulkar’s fault. He’s just basking in this massive amoeba of adulation. And that’s what we seem to do to our idols. Explain to me - Why do we pao padao, supplicate, prostrate in front of, just completely elevate our idols to a ‘walk on water, part the Dead Sea’ level .

Take the BJP PM in waiting — he currently holds the country in the palm of his hands. Mention Godhra. No one’s interested. He’s still God. Our knight in shining khadi. It’s not just that we look the other way at the foibles, faults and flaws of demi-gods.  We just go overboard in our mass hysteria. I’ve heard the argument, that the country lacks leaders.Where are the men of the stature of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel to revere ?

And I grant that we are an over-emotional people. But we are also incredibly fickle. The point is Sachin is a hero. Don’t make him a super hero. Because heroes we never forget. Super heroes tend to fade from memory.

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller.  Reach him at rahuldacunha62

The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper. 

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