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Thursday, March 8, 2012

An unassuming man called Rahul Dravid: Part Two

"Seven Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers in seven years. If only Dumbeldore had the foresight to pick Rahul Dravid as one in the first year, we might never have needed the help of Harry Potter."

                                    - NN (23rd July '11, after Dravid's 33rd century. Lords)

There will be a day when Samit Dravid grows up and tries to assimilate the magnitude of service his father has done to Indian cricket. For everywhere he goes, they will sit him down and tell him glowingly of the man's deeds once upon a time.  Of how Rahul ‘walked’ in his first test match when he was on 95; a gentleman, they will declare approvingly. Of how he donned the keeper gloves to accommodate Yuvi and Kaif in the team; a team man, they will declare strongly. And young Samit will look on, bored but silent, for a well mannered boy does not start telling people that he has heard the stories a million times already. He is Rahul Dravid’s son after all, manners are in his genes.

Rahul Dravid gotay suna pilla” my (Oriya) grandmum tells me as she concentrates on her sewing, when I ask her what she thinks of his retirement. (transation: RD is a good boy)

Every time Samit walks into a cricket game, be it on the street or at a ground, there will be boys looking at him and passing judgment. Whenever he leans on his back foot and uses his wrists to hit a ball through point, they will, on heading back to their homes inform one and all, with that wise tone in their voice, that there really is a bit of Rahul in Samit. Truer words would never be spoken, if only their context was not so blurred. There should be a bit of Rahul in Samit just as there must be a bit of a father in every son. For Samit’s sake, we hope there is a lot of Rahul in him, even if none of it may be in a cricketing sense.

As Samit grows up, there will be girls in his school who will find him cute, and he’ll find ready invitations to their homes. Their fathers will pat his back with a roar and inform him how they always preferred test cricket over the shorter version. Their mothers will laugh and tell him how they always found  Dravid “ the most handsome cricketer”.“Almost as much as Brett Lee”, they may confess as an afterthought.
There might be a few things Samit might never know though. That there were hundreds of boys who threw their cricket balls into long socks, cut a hole in the latter and then strung it up from a height only so that they could practice their strokes just because Rahul did so in a Pepsi ad.  While there maybe hundreds of awards on his father’s mantelpiece, he will never know that near a small river in Vaikom, Kerala, there’s a rundown shack selling fish and rice, and the only colour in its brown walls is of a cutting of Dravid’s picture. It’s not a tenth as glossy or pretty as the awards he is looking at, but then ask the man who owns it if it is precious, or beautiful.

He will never know that one day in 2003 (two years before he was even born) there were thirty of us  not attending our college exam, sitting cramped in a small hostel room watching the proceedings at Adelaide. And when Dravid hit that square cut that gave us our first win in Australia in years, with him there were thirty of us who were raising our fists at the television and telling the world what India really thought of it.

We, who grew up in the nineties, feel proud that we grew up then, because it was the decade that brought to our country the internet, cable tv, economic liberalization and three young men called Sachin, Saurav and Rahul.

Tomorrow, when Dravid retires, an entire media and ‘social’ nation will talk about it. While pride will be at the centre of Samit’s young heart, a part of him will be puzzled as to why now, just like every time the man scored a century, the effusiveness of the media and his supporters came out in the form of a Shakesperean tragedy. Romantic, but sad. Of how Dravid had always delivered, but was never feted. Of how the man who had scored the second highest runs in test cricket was never glorified as the man who had scored the second highest runs in test cricket.

But Samit should not pay heed to it for he should know that everyone who ever loved cricket, or truly understood the game has loved Rahul Dravid. Not only because he scored so many runs for us, not because he was a middle class boy who rose to stardom, but because when he did all those things, he did them with grace and honesty. Samit should not pay heed to it,  for it is the job of communication to assign characters and plots and images to a story. And Dravid’s role, in the overall scheme of things come to think of it, was probably to forever be remembered as the finest gentleman of Indian cricket. We all love Sourav for taking off his jersey on the Lords balcony, it would be nice to respect Rahul Dravid for stopping others from following suit.

Like my grandmother said, “Rahul Dravid gotay sunna pilla”.

P.S: If you want to read part one of the story, you can read it on Cricinfo here or scroll through the blog archives. I am too lazy to search and link it. Also, I want to go practice my cover drive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

True that.we miss him.he was amazing and always will be.