Most praise Sachin Tendulkar because of his cricketing technique and laurels on the field. Ask the children of Priyadarshini Government School in Kandivali here and all would scream in unison that they got to paint him in a contrasting canvas, on Friday.
The contrast for these school children was not in terms of Tendulkar's batting records, his centuries or the number of years he has given to the sport and to the country. They were already veteran fans of the master blaster and had these statistics on their fingertips! It actually, was a clear lesson in humility and modesty, delivered in a soft, cheery and extremely loving manner.
Every child assembled here had braved the heat and had gone past a security blanket that had painted their otherwise ordinary streets in khakhi hues. They had come in with papers for autographs but walked out with a message that, for them, was like it had been sent straight from the heavens. "It is important to attend school and important to enjoy it. Study hard but also make a lot of friends. Remember, school friends are the best friends one makes in life," said the man who the children had otherwise only seen on posters in their small houses or on what appeared to be the solitary TV here, at the grocery store nearby.
There was a clear attempt from most to get a chance to impress their idol. Some danced while a few others sang. Some bravehearts even broke a 'matki' hung high in their play-field, an area which would not have been bigger than three practice pitches put together at the Wankhede. Yet, while some were fortunate to have managed to embrace the hands which had struck a hundred hundreds, others were, equally luckily, left with lofty dreams and an unspoken message to achieve them through modest but hard-working means. "When he came in his big car, I thought he would not meet us. But he spoke so softly and he even looked at me when he was telling us about studies," said a girl who could not have been more than 12.
Age though, was not a constraint here as Tendulkar's message struck a timeless chord with the children, a chord that they, in all probabilities, would remember the most when they have achieved the pinnacle of their personal success.
Note: Sachin Tendulkar was at this school as part of NDTV Coca Cola's Support My School Campaign