HE WILL have to learn, I know, that all cricket fans are not just; all cricket fans are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a genuine hero worth emulating; that for every selfish manipulator, there is a dedicated follower. Teach him that for every critic there is a friend. It will take time, I know; but teach him, if you can, that the respect earned the hard way is far more valuable than a million earned through just fame. Teach him to learn to lose and also to enjoy winning.
Steer him away from distraction if you can, teach him the secret of quiet introspection.
Let him learn early that the trolls are the easiest to ignore. Teach him, if you can, the wonder of mentors. But also give him quiet time to ponder the eternal mystery of the game, runs under the sun, and wicket preserved on a green seaming track.
In the nets, teach him it is far more honorable to fall than to cheat. To walk away, than to stand still when he knows he’s got a nick.
Teach him to have faith in his own ideas and his game, even if everyone tells him they are wrong. Teach him to be gentle with the gentle, and tough with the tough. To accept the respects if it comes, and when they sledge to simply walk away.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone is getting on the bandwagon. Teach him to listen to all legends; but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him to scoff at cynics and to beware of too much sweetness. Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidders, but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul.
Teach him to close his ears to a howling mob and to stand and fight if he thinks he is right. Teach him to keep his life’s love out of sight, for the crowds will love ‘em when he does well, but alas, will shred ‘em to pieces if he doesn’t.
Treat him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes fine steel.
Let him have the courage to be impatient; let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in the game of Cricket. Beyond everything else, imbibe on him that whatever be the country comes first. Follow your passion, and the records will follow.
This is a big order, I am simply too far away, but see what you can do. He is such a fine little Cricketer, my son!
Just Another Dad
*Originally written by Abraham Lincoln to his son’s teacher, this letter is a gut-wrenching reminder of the pain and anguish that a cricketer’s family faces when those who unfortunately call themselves cricket fans subject them to unfair scrutiny and ridicule. Inspired by the letter, I tried to imagine if this were written by the father of any of our Cricketers and found that each line, it’s meaning, and the essence will echo the sentiments of those who are near and dear to the cricketers. For a cricket-loving nation, we treat our cricketers the same as we treat our gods- elated when our prayers are answered, and bordering on contempt when they aren’t. There is much ground we need to cover for us to become a sporting nation. It starts with being a sport- accepting wins and losses as a part of life.
PS: The author knows that Virat’s father is no more but he was pondering over what his father would have thought of how India has reacted to a few of his son’s failures.