Even as Sachin Tendulkar went about conquering the cricketing world in the last 24 years, there was one person who chose to stay in the background and let the maestro enjoy his time in the sun.
Although, he had played an extremely crucial role in the evolution of the Tendulkar that everyone knows, elder brother Ajit Tendulkar chose to live the life of a recluse, far away from the glare of the camera.
In a rare interaction, Ajit talked about his little brother at a conclave ‘Salaam Sachin’ organised by the India Today group at a city hotel yesterday.
On life after November 18, the day Sachin retires:
After November 18, he won’t be wearing the India cap again. That’s a big thing for him as he is very proud of the cap. Whenever he went out to bat, he was expected to score a 100 by his fans, and it was the India cap which motivated him. There won’t be any rigorous workouts thereafter. He can eat as much butter chicken as he wants.
On the prevailing mood in the family:
The family is happy because our mother has never seen him play even in the nets. She will see him in his 200th and last Test at the Wankhede. It’s going to be a real emotional moment for him, mother and all of us.
On why the family never went to watch him play till now:
In the past, friends would laugh at us about what all we were missing by not watching Sachin play. We did not go and watch him as we were scared of a few things even when he was scoring heavily. He had a tendency to throw his wicket away and the situation was such that once Raj Singh Dungarpur called us and asked us to explain to Sachin not to start his innings in the fifth gear. He wanted us to tell him to start his knock in the first gear and accelerate gradually. Everyone in the family is nervous whenever he goes out to play. My sister would fast while mother would pray. All of us would do things so that we helped create positive vibes while he was at the crease.
On the first day Sachin spent with coach Ramakant Achrekar:
When I took him to Achrekar Sir, Sachin was wearing a T-shirt and half pants. Sir told him to come the next day, wearing trousers. That day he did not get to bat, but went through some fielding practice. I was surprised to see him take some high catches and was looking forward to the next day when he would get a chance to bat. He got into the rhythm very soon and Achrekar Sir decided he would always bat at No 4 from then.
On how he reacted to Sachin becoming India’s first sporting millionaire:
For me, he was a millionaire whenever he scored a 100. Whenever he scored a 100 we felt like millionaires even when traveling in auto rickshaws. But the day he did not score a century, not even a Ferrari ride made us feel like millionaires. Today, having seen him score a 100 tons, I can now happily say that he is a true millionaire.
On the day Sachin had to take a cab to the airport not very long ago:
It was early in the morning. We were in his BMW X5 on the Bandra flyover when he told me that something was wrong with the car. We got out and noticed that a tyre was punctured. It was 6:30 so there was not much rush (on the road). I hailed a cab, moved all his bags from our car and when we reached the airport, people were surprised that Sachin had come there in a cab.
On the biggest compliment he has received about Sachin:
He was playing an ODI tournament in Sharjah in 1998, the one where he scored back-to-back 100s and helped us win. One of my close friend called and told me that his mother had watched Sachin’s innings, and so touched was she by his performance that she began weeping.
On the difficult days which followed their father’s death:
If father had come back to life even for five minutes, he would have told Sachin to go back and play for India. That was all he wanted. We were very sad when he came back from England during the World Cup. Two months prior to his death, father had suffered a heart attack. I didn’t tell Sachin about that attack as he was playing in a series. He scored a 100 in the next innings and we were happy.
On sibling rivalry:
Whatever difference of opinion we have has to do only with cricket. Other than cricket we don't discuss much. Firstly it's nice of Sachin that he always hears me out. I have not visited most of the venues where he has played. Even then, he hears whatever suggestions I have. Sometimes, it’s ignorant on my part that I end up giving suggestions about places where I have not gone!