Love and devotion are accompanied by delusion. They make us think, that the things close to our hearts, will never end.
I mean, of course you are aware that they will, but the said delusion makes you inclined towards denial.
MS Dhoni’s retirement was a reminder of this basic human nature.
Everyone who watches cricket in India, knew that he will give up the blue jersey sooner than later; but we avoided the thought just like batsmen avoid risky deliveries in a Test match.
They think they have time. We thought so, too.
But all those delusions were shattered on the evening of August 15, 2020. With a simple montage of moments from his cricketing career, MS Dhoni announced that he will not play for India anymore.
In the background of the video, was the song Main Pal Do Pal Ka Shayar Hun, and in the caption, was this text:
Thanks…thanks a lot for your love and support throughout. From 19:29 Hrs, consider me as retired.
That’s it. Consider me as retired. From 19:29 Hrs.
A 16-year-old career put to an end with exactly 16 words. That’s Dhoni for you.
But, why 19:29? Why not 19:30?
What could have changed in 1 minute?
Everything. As people who have had the privilege of witnessing him play, we know that in 1 minute, you can win a seemingly lost match…tournament…the World Cup.
So there must be a reason for it; but I guess we will never know. And I believe we should not try to find, either. He did what he had to do. Let’s allow him to keep this final secret to himself.
Just like we keep the million memories of him, close to our hearts.
Personally speaking, he was the reason I started watching cricket. I was 13, when India played World Cup, 2007, and that tournament changed it all. For me and for him.
I liked what I saw and the naivety of that age made me think that wonders like this happen often.
Safe to say, Dhoni didn’t disappoint.
From dismissing batsmen at the very last minute to hitting 6s that turned the game around, he kept the magic alive.
And a very young me thought that when you want something, you get it. You want to see miracles? Miracles will happen.
Of course, with age that optimism faded away. The world got around and did what it does.
But by then, my conviction was so deep-rooted, that even the (overly) practical person I have grown to become, occasionally thinks, that you can get anything you want, if you try hard-enough.
Dhoni did that to me.
He also got me interested in sports in general. An interest that turned into a full-fledged, profound love, over the years.
Truly, I’ll watch just about anything if there is a scoreboard and medals.
So it’s ironic to me that Dhoni chose to bid adieu with the words: Pal do pal meri hasti hai (my presence is only for a few moments).
He doesn’t know that he changed everything for me, and many others who have had similar lives.
That hurts the most.
2 World Cups. A Champions Trophy. 2 Asia Cups. 17,266 international runs. 829 dismissals. 195 stumpings. A patent shot.
If you have to define his career by victories and numbers, these are the most important ones.
But how will you and I explain the feeling of security we got when we saw Dhoni behind the stumps?
How will we tell people that when he used to rub his gloves together, it used to seem like everything will be alright?
How will we be able to put into the words the longing we have already started experiencing?
And the pain of this all, only gets worse, because this is not how I wanted my captain’s career to end.
After doing so much for the country, he deserved the guard of honour for the last time, he deserved to give a speech in a stadium full of people, he deserved a lap around the stadium.
This cruel year, snatched that from him, and from me, a part of my childhood.
You know what, though? I know I will eventually be fine. I will somehow find the courage to deal with his retirement and the unfairness of the situation.
But what do I tell the 13-year-old kid who watched the ‘guy with long hair’ play, and got convinced that there’s not much to life without sports?
It’s her I am unable to console.