|Sachin Tendulkar in Mumbai in 2011. (PTI)
Mumbai, Oct. 10: School had just got over but for once, the boys weren’t creating a racket.
Outside the home of the master, they stood in sombre groups. Had they been punished? No. This was worse. Sachin Tendulkar had announced his exit.
Unexpected? Not really.
Impact? Well, Perry Cross Road — quiet, largely untouched by the din of party-loving Bandra — stayed quiet. Perhaps quieter than other days when a late-afternoon hum buzzes through the leafy lane. That’s when the boys from the Hidayat Madarsa, bang opposite Sachin’s house, get a break.
Today, when the kids streamed out, they were unusually silent.
Not everyone. Had the Little Master looked out, he would have seen a little boy — a 13-year-old from Jaipur — arguing with a bunch of police constables sent in to control the possible assembly of fans outside his home.
“We just want to stand at the spot right next to the gate so we are the first to see him if he comes out. I want to tell him that though I am from Jaipur, I support the Mumbai Indians because Sachin is in that team. I want to tell him I love to watch cricket because he is in the game,” said Rashid Habibullah, who has been living at the madarsa for the past year.
Even the policemen seemed restless as they went around asking the assembled reporters and camera crews whether they had any information about Sachin’s plans for the day.
Local residents — the well-heeled type, not those who crowd outside celebrity homes — stopped by. Others, who had stepped out for their daily evening walk at the sea-kissing promenade of Carter Road, just 10 metres from the house, paused to ask what Sachin might be doing within the grey walls of his home.
Inside, Sachin was just enjoying being at home. Just that.
“His wife Anjali and brother Ajit were home with him and by the time the BCCI sent out Sachin’s statement announcing his retirement a little after 4pm, his kids too had got back home from school,” said a source close to the icon.
They had two guests. The first was Vinod Naidu VP, World sports Group, who has been managing brand Sachin and the cricketer’s commercial interests for nearly the past 15 years.
The second was Sachin’s childhood friend and former Mumbai medium pacer Atul Ranade.
“Sachin was in a light frame of mind, going down memory lane and looking forward to the future,” said the source.
In between, Sachin had paused to make a call to Milind Rege, former captain of the Mumbai Ranji team. “It was 6.54pm by my watch and I picked up the phone and before he spoke, I said ‘Tendlya, what have you done?’ He said, ‘Sir, I just wanted to thank you today’,” the 63-year-old MCA veteran told The Telegraph.
“I think he was going back through the years and remembering the days when he was 11 and I, bowled over by his prodigious batting, took him under my wing. I did no favour, his coach Mr Achrekar and his natural talent get the entire credit. But it is just like Sachin to remember all the people he met on his way up.”
Rege had been instrumental in getting a 13-year-old Sachin an honorary membership of the Cricket Club of India so that he could play for a better-known club.
“I was the secretary of the club at the time and, with the encouragement of people like (former BCCI president) Raj Singh Dungarpur, I could change the club rules which allowed only those above 18 to become members,” Rege said.
Later, he had been instrumental in Sachin getting selected for the Mumbai Ranji team at the age of 15.
On November 14, when Sachin takes the field for his final bow, his family and friends will be there with some lucky thousands to witness the moment.
Will Rashid, the little boy from the madarsa, be there? Unlikely.
For him and his friends, their vigil outside Sachin’s home on a sunny October Thursday will be the landmark moment to remember.