Until just over six months ago, writing a piece on the most anticipated hundred in world cricket was a daily job. You had to find different things to say and to sometimes say the same things differently. Every time the milestone seemed plausible, I would begin to hammer away at the keyboard. Before long, the piece was being tweaked. Each of those pieces, written over a period of six months, had to be tweaked. Then, I stopped writing.
Today, when Sachin Tendulkar scored his hundred, I did what was previously unimaginable. Didn't see the match, followed it intermittently on the web and then ambled my way to the cafeteria for a cup of coffee when he was on 98. Six months ago, moving an inch from where I stood while he was at the crease was just 'not done'. Today, it was just another match. It was just another day at work. It was just another coffee break.
My social media timeline resonated with some Tendulkar action just after the milestone was achieved. There was stuff we had planned. There were jokes to be shared with a select group. There were things to be remembered. And there was a possibility of going back to writing again.
Sachin Tendulkar became the first man to score hundred international tons. (AP Photo)
Tendulkar's hundredth hundred has done two things. First, it has opened up the possibility of him returning to his best against the best of the opposition. He may have had an off-colour time off late, but you and I know that a man who has been there for 23 summers and 23 winters isn't going to go off the field without one final reminder. He doesn't leave any debts.
Second, it will go down in history books as the ton that came against Bangladesh. The importance of this hundred and the opposition in particular needs to be stressed upon by the ICC. They have been eager to make a case for the teams on the fringes for quite some time now. This, then, is the perfect occasion.
But probably the most important lesson from Tendulkar's hundred is that of expectations management. The 100th hundred teaches you things about life. You may be the chosen one, but you still have to struggle and persevere. His landmark is testimony to work ethics, dedication and patience. The number is just a by-product of the passion, the ability and the desire to put India first – always and every time.
Some on social media have already run it down saying it has come against Bangladesh. Well, Tendulkar’s hundreds have come against teams like Kenya and Namibia as well. Do you then subtract those for having been scored against sub-par oppositions? Each of the hundreds has a story to tell. Each of those hundreds will tug at your heart. Each of those hundreds at that time was the single most important inning.
There's a saying in Hindi: 'boond boond se saagar banta hai' (It takes droplets of water to make a sea). Tendulkar's milestone of 100 hundreds is like that 'saagar' (sea) and each one of those hundreds a precious droplet. Rabindranath Tagore described the Taj Mahal not as a monument but a teardrop on the cheek of time. Tendulkar's 100 hundreds is a similar journey. Someday it will leave you teary-eyed.
(Ranabir Majumdar is a former full-time sports writer and editor, who is now trying his hands at communication.)