New Delhi: The master went in disguise, but it did not help!
An interesting nugget about the price that master batsman Sachin Tendulkar has paid for being a national icon has been revealed by his wife Anjali, who is a doctor.
Anjali recalled how Tendulkar, who completes 20 years of international cricket tomorrow, had to come in disguise to watch a movie during their courtship but the plan went haywire very soon and the couple had to leave the hall midway through the film.
"... We had gone to see the movie Roja. I was studying medicine then and a couple of my friends planned. Sachin did try telling me that it would be difficult but I insisted that he come along. To make sure nobody recognised him, we even got him a beard.
Tendulkar was born to bat: Roebuck
"He wore specs as well and we went in late. We watched the first half of the film, but during the interval, Sachin dropped his specs and people immediately recognised him. It was a bit of disaster and we were forced to leave halfway," she said in a published interview.
Ignorant about cricket when she first started dating Tendulkar, Anjali said she read up everything about the game soon after but the man himself didn't like discussing the sport at home.
"I think what he liked about me was that I knew nothing about cricket when I first met him. But then, me being me, I read everything about the game. I came to know all the fielding positions but he doesn't like me discussing cricket at home. But at times when he is low or upset, I do talk to him about cricket. Again, it's not the game but things related to it that we discuss," Anjali said.
Anjali gave up her promising medical career to be Tendulkar's "biggest support" and after 14 years of marriage, she doesn't regret her decision one bit.
"Though I loved every moment of my studying days and my days at the government hospital, it then came to a stage when I realised that I could not be married to Sachin and also have a full-time career. It wasn't possible because he depends on me for almost everything. It was my decision. I thought I should be at home with him and make everything perfect for him," she recalled.
Ex-Pakistan cricketers pay tribute to Tendulkar
"In his childhood, his brother Ajit did everything for Sachin, sacrificing his own interests. I thought I should do the same. Besides, mine would not have been a 9 to 5 job. I'm a paediatrician, so if there's a patient calling me or someone admitted at odd hours, I have to make myself available", she said.
"With Sachin not around and me with two kids at home, it wouldn't have been possible. I took a decision and I have never, ever regretted it," Anjali said.
Anjali said she still can't stop herself from getting tensed when Tendulkar comes out to bat, so much so that she doesn't even get up to take a phone call when he is at the crease.
"Actually, I have one particular spot in the house from where I can watch TV and also keep an eye on my Ganpati (Ganesha). I don't eat. I don't answer phones. I don't drink. I don't even move. I don't reply to any sms until he's out," she said.
Twenty years on, Tendulkar still feels like he's 16
Nineteen years of knowing the cricketer India worships, Anjali said she has learnt to deal with the pulls and pressures that come with being his better half.
"For me, it's very easy because I've known Sachin for 19 years now. I understand him so well. So whether I am his girlfriend or his wife, it's the same thing, just an extension of that bond. I don't find it very difficult and I'm used to it.
"Maybe, it's also because I've not known any other person in my life except Sachin. Of course, there are many challenges and difficulties to being his wife but the whole family, including my children, has learnt to deal with it," she said.