A loving, understanding and compassionate family is the greatest wealth anyone can have.
|The Family Tendulkar (minus Savita): Clockwise from Top Left:
Ajit, Nitin, Ramesh, Sachin and Rajni
As Sachin Tendulkar bid an emotional adieu to his cricketing career yesterday, what struck me most was how his family had backed him all these past 29 (including his pre-international playing days) years. Sachin graciously acknowledged their role too in his farewell speech. Sachin’s father Ramesh Tendulkar married twice. From his first wife, Ramesh had three children – Nitin, Savita and Ajit. Sachin was born to Rajni, Ramesh’s second wife, and he is the couple’s only child. While Ramesh’s role in raising and inspiring Sachin, to be the champion that he eventually turned out to be, is well-known, I really admire how well his two half-brothers and his half-sister have nurtured him. Often in India, members of families where one parent has remarried, end up growing distant, if not always estranged. But Ramesh managed to keep the flock together. And his first three children have set a glorious example in the manner in which they helped their step-mother Rajni raise their precocious and precious half-brother. Sachin did talk eloquently yesterday about how Nitin has quietly contributed to his career and how Savita gifted him his first cricket bat. He also spoke about how Ajit, all through Sachin’s cricketing career, has stood by him – right from taking his prodigal brother to coach Ramakant Achrekar for the first time in 1984 to discussing Sachin’s dismissal at 74, in-depth, in his final, 200th, Test at the Wankhede. Yet whether it was his half-siblings, or his wife Anjali or his late father or his mother Rajni, the Tendulkar family has stayed out of the limelight – preferring to do only what came to them naturally and what they were best at: which is, to totally back Sachin! That attitude is inspiring and speaks volumes about the family’s value systems – humility, mutual respect and togetherness.
I come from a fractured family that continues to confound me. My siblings and I live in the same city but fail to even speak with each other. We have always found, over the years, reasons and issues to remain divided and distant. With the passage of time, I realize, we don’t even perhaps relate to each other. Surely, I too have contributed to this situation in the past and have since apologized to my family for my actions. But mistrust and the urge to interpret__than understand__each other are so rampant amongst us that any effort we have made in the past to come together has always failed. To compound matters, when my wife, children and I encountered a Life-changing, near-death crisis, a bankruptcy, some years ago, my family felt we were “faking” the crisis. They had helped us financially and when we could not repay the money we owed them, we were not trusted for our word. The crisis did not hit me as hard as my family not trusting me did. But for my wife, who supported me, helping me anchor emotionally and brave that painful phase of my Life, I would have crumbled.
From my experience, I have discovered that love, understanding and compassion are the bonding glue in any family. These traits blossom and thrive only when the family thinks as one unit – like a cohesive, understanding team – and not as diverse individuals who are merely connected with each other by blood and birth (which is what defines a family!). Merely being related to each other does not a family make. Respect for each other’s opinions, actions and decisions, trust and companionship are critical for making a family come alive and stay together. Families cannot be built by possessing or controlling each other. They evolve only when space and time are given to its members – to experience Life in their own ways, to go out into the world, to try, to make mistakes, to fail and to still feel “welcome” at home. Members in a family cannot be separate from each other and expect the relationships in the family to grow stronger. It is simply not possible for separateness and bonding to co-exist! A family will stand up for its name only when each of its members stands up for each other. When people stop saying “I told you so” and instead say, irrespective of what has happened, “How can we make things better”.
Sachin is blessed to have been born into a family where they value and respect each other. The Family Tendulkar is surely an inspiration for all of us. We may not quite be able to raise another Sachin in our families without some cosmic benevolence perhaps, but we sure can create an environment in our families, on our own, where we trust, cherish and celebrate each other!