Today as I was waiting for the clock to strike six so that I could make my getaway, a fellow bong and school mate from Germany pinged me knowing fully well what news could distress me to no end. (Lately people have been developing the habit of giving me distressing news during the course of work. For example, someone pings and says E-Ka is marrying K-Jo.) But then this news was more distressing than any other. Ganguly had finally announced his retirement.
A lot of events flashed in front of my eyes. I remembered how four or five of us had defended Ganguly all through our 2 years at IIMB when everyone worth a penny of salt was fighting against Dada and us. Dada came back again and again, like a phoenix defying every doomsday prediction and getting deified in the eyes of his ardent fans. Lots will be written about him, many better writers will write eulogies for the Prince of Calcutta but here let me just try to say what endeared him to me.
To say I admire Ganguly because he’s a Bong will be akin to questioning my basic levels of intelligence. I have never been regional and I hope I never will be accused of being one. Yet I can sense some logic in Bengalis being blind to any fault of their beloved Dada. The Tamilians had their MGR, the Telugus their NTRs. For a communist and hero starved state, Ganguly came like a ray of hope. From the days when Bengal defined the directions of the Freedom Struggle, to the failed Naxalite Movement that claimed the lives of the best and brightest of Bengal, till the communist reign in a state where hero worship had been replaced by ‘party worship’ Bengalis starved for a hero. The nation was growing tired of flaunting its Tagore, Teresa and Bose. At that moment came a century at Lords. And Ganguly became the symbol of
I admire Ganguly for quite a few reasons. He made us realize that we could look at the best in the eye and never blink. He made us realize that it’s not wrong to break traditions if your ultimate objective is to be the best. He told us that we a billion strong nation can win the World Cup once again, even if it’s a World of 9 nations. He showed us that brilliance can’t be stopped. Even with 9 fielders guarding the off side, his bat would show the ball the direction to the boundary.
But the only reason why
He perhaps could have retired with more dignity. There was perhaps truth in the accusations against him. But then he’s not a God. We have a Tendulkar for that slot. And that’s why Ganguly will be remembered - as the human who dared to defy conventions.