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Sachin Tendulkar always gave attention to fans when they were in need

Oh think twice, it’s another day for you and me in paradise; Oh think twice, it’s just another day for you, You and me in paradise Sachin Tendulkar used to be a Phil Collins fan and wouldhave been familiar with the above words from Collins’ 1989 hit single. There’s a place in Tendulkar’s heart for the poor, needy and of course, his die-hard fans! In July 2004, Tendulkar read a report in this newspaper about a 14-year-old cricketer Mohsin Shaikh falling off a train while returning to his Ulhasnagar home from Dombivili where he attended a Mumbai Cricket Association camp.  According to Radiologist Dr Bhujang Pai, who was then attached to Hinduja Hospital before moving to Seven Hills, Tendulkar expressed his desire to meet Mohsin, who was then in a semi-conscious state.


Little progress: Mohsin Shaikh (centre) with his parents. He cannot walk on his own, but still avidly watches cricket on TV

Dr Pai, along with then Mumbai Cricket Association Joint Secretary Prof Ratnakar Shetty, had taken a keen interest in providing the injured cricketer the best possible treatment for his head injury. Club cricketer Mobin Shaikh, who first discovered that the kid was admitted to Sion Hospital after the accident, played a good hand as well. Ditto a police constable who rushed Mohsin to hospital in Kalyan after he found him lying unconscious at Vitthalwadi police station.


Sporting diagnosis: Dr Bhujang Pai with Sachin Tendulkar

Tendulkar made his way to Hinduja Hospital on the night of July 10. He knew what to expect when he entered the room where the young fast bowler was lying on his bed crippled in spirit, but eye-witnesses could see the star visitor’s anguish. Mohsin was barely opening his eyes when Tendulkar, with a ball in hand, said to him, “We want you to play for India. When you get well, you should come and bowl to me.”


Dreams dashed: Sachin Tendulkar meets Mohsin Shaikh, whose aspirations of becoming a cricketer were shattered in a train mishap

He left a pair of gloves for Mohsin and had some words of comfort for his parents Hussain and Mehrunissa. “Have courage and believe in God,” he told them. Mohsin has not made the kind of progress that would please his loved ones. He can’t talk normally, and cannot walk on his own. He watches the game he once played on television, and if someone changes the channel or turns it off, he gets upset. The family endures emotional as well as financial problems, but they remember Tendulkar’s gesture and have treasured the pair of gloves presented to Mohsin.


Bowl to me: Sachin Tendulkar tries to cheer up Mohsin Shaikh

Dr Pai remembers another act of kindness: “On a flight to Tirupathi, I got talking to a gentleman who was distressed about his nine-year-old son’s state of health. I asked him to see me at Hinduja where he underwent a series of tests after which it was discovered that the boy had an Askin’s tumour. I had to break the news to the kid’s father and chemotherapy sessions began. The boy expressed his wish to meet Sachin. I spoke to him and he willingly agreed.

“Sachin returned to Mumbai after India beat Australia in Mohali on October 21. He was all set to come to Hinduja, but couldn’t make it because of some political tension in the city. He arrived the following day and fulfilled the kid’s wish. He spent quality time at the hospital and presented the kid with an autographed India shirt. That very shirt was shown to the child as he endured the chemotherapy sessions. He survived and is doing well.”

A year later, Tendulkar returned home from the 2009 edition of the Indian Premier League to read a text message from this writer requesting him to meet 86-year-old Mary Serrao whose last wish was to see him in the flesh after years of watching him on television. Like the batsman, she was born on April 24. Tendulkar responded immediately and expressed his willingness to meet the lady in between a commercial shoot at Mehboob Studio in Bandra.

The night of May 27 was a sleepless one for Serrao and she had no hesitation in saying the next day that she had experienced her greatest moment in her life. Tendulkar was warm and accommodating, and even fed her a piece of cake which was cut in a room at the studio in honour of the two of them. It’s not for nothing that he is known to be sweet!

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