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Gestures that took the cake

Anjali Tendulkar offers the first piece of cake to Sachin during his 40th birthday celebrations, at a city hotel, on Wednesday. (PTI)

Calcutta: It was Sachin Tendulkar’s day, Wednesday, but The Master chose to make it special for many more through two gestures, made very quietly.

First, Sachin requested the ITC Sonar to send the cakes and bouquets presented to him, on his 40th birthday, to the Missionaries of Charity.

Why the Missionaries of Charity? Because Sachin is a Mother Teresa admirer and one of his “regrets” is that he never met her in person.

Sachin said as much in an interview to this Reporter in the lead-up to his completing 20 years of international cricket, in November 2009.

Then, Sachin spent around 10 minutes with 21-year-old Harshul ‘Boss’ Goenka, a spastic who is passionate about the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and crazy over him.

That Harshul was in the KKR colours didn’t matter and Sachin actually remembered that he’d met the wheelchair-bound young man last December, during the England Test.

“We’ll always be grateful to Sachin... To take time off on his birthday and on a day the Mumbai Indians are playing... We’re overwhelmed,” Harshul’s mother, Rajni, remarked.

[The Goenkas, in fact, are also grateful to Shah Rukh Khan, principal owner of KKR, for directing the franchise to ensure Harshul, his mother and two attendants are “comfortable” during the home matches at the Eden.]

Getting back to the Missionaries of Charity, Sister Deepam confirmed that “cakes and bouquets” had been received at Mother House in the evening.

Sister Deepam added: “We’ve been touched by Mr Tendulkar’s gesture... We’ll be praying for him in the morning and will send a thank you note.”

In between the two gestures, Sachin briefly spoke to The Telegraph.

Asked if the day’s first call had been to his mother, Rajni, Sachin replied: “Yes... She blessed me... A son can’t ask for more...”

Having turned 40, was he feeling a bit older?

Laughing, Sachin said: “I’ll stick to what Anil (Kumble) told me — that 40 is just a number!”

Sachin’s children, Sara and Arjun, stayed back in Mumbai. According to their mother, Anjali, Sara’s in the midst of her “standard X exams,” while the younger Arjun has to “attend school.”

The Tendulkar upbringing, after all.

Footnote: Brett Lee, who has had quite a few duels with Sachin, again compared The Master to “amazing red wine, which ages beautifully!”