The air suffused with warmth, Sachin Tendulkar greeted a special admirer at a hotel in Chennai on Monday. The cricket legend approached the 87-year-old Saraswathi Vaidyanathan with folded hands and sought her blessings.
Despite an illustrious career of miles and milestones, cricket’s most successful batsman has retained a great sense of humility. “I read in the article that you have followed all my innings and know all my records. I need your good wishes,” said the man who cuts across barriers.
The April 1 issue of The Hindu Metro Plus broke the story of how Saraswathi, unmindful of her advancing age, had kept track of Tendulkar’s glorious journey. She maintained her own statistics of the maestro, kept awake all night to follow his innings on television and prayed for him.
Her body weak, Saraswathi had difficulty walking. Yet her eyes laughed when she saw Tendulkar in flesh and blood. Not wanting the moment to fly away and turning distinctly emotional, she said, “I am lucky to meet you.” Tendulkar corrected her. “No, I am lucky to meet you,” he said.
Saraswathi recalled Tendulkar’s records — to the legend’s great delight — and expressed her wish that he would complete 100 international centuries. Tendulkar is seven short of the landmark. “I will,” replied a beaming Tendulkar.
She then gifted Tendulkar an idol of Lord Ganesh. Tendulkar touched her feet, again in all humility. Soon, he autographed her prized possession — a bat signed by several accomplished cricketers. The maestro’s name had been missing from the list.
Affectionately calling Tendulkar her fourth grandson — Saraswathi has three grandsons and a granddaughter — she asked the legend, “How are Anjali [Tendulkar’s wife], Arjun [son] and Sara [daughter] doing?”
Tendulkar answered, “They are all well.”
Saraswathi’s second son C.V. Venkitakrishnan said: “Whenever she has a health issue, all she needs to do is to watch Tendulkar bat. All her pain disappears. He is a tonic for her.”
Despite being pressed for time, Tendulkar had happily agreed to meet Saraswathi. It came after a team meeting of the Mumbai Indians at Park Sheraton, ahead of the evening practice session.
Tendulkar was moved on more than one occasion. Saraswathi had the final say. “You are short in stature, but very big in deeds,” she said.
Tendulkar smiled, once again.
Courtesy The Hindu