Let's make it simple as he enters the 40th year of a life lived more for others than himself. Let's spare this day from putting expectations on his shoulders - something he never refused to take and we never stopped giving. Let's just simply say 'Happy Birthday, Sachin Tendulkar' and feel the relief he enjoys on his special day, with nothing left to be achieved and nothing left to be conquered, just the love for the game keeping him going.
At this juncture, when success lies in every corner of your life, 'what next' becomes the most-asked question. And it's nothing different for Tendulkar, who perhaps is the biggest victim of demands in this country. But his never-ending supply of runs has met those demands incessantly for 23 years, and now when he stands maybe just a year short of good-bye, he too is being asked, "What next?"
Get into Tendulkar's shoes and you will come to know how difficult it is to leave something that you can't live without. But we'll leave it at that in this piece, as it's the most inopportune moment to touch this touchy subject for Tendulkar.
On a different note, as the great man enters 40, it's time for the family to have the bigger share of Tendulkar's life. Sara and Arjun may want their dad to drop them to school, Anjali must be looking to go grocery shopping with her husband, Ajit won't mind a game of cards with his brother and the mother once again will want to see his son home whenever she opened her eyes.
A celebrity remains devoid of such simpler yet most satisfying things life has to offer. And when those things come within touching distance, especially after enjoying success in every shape and form, you take to it like fish to water. Tendulkar doesn't need to look farther than Rahul Dravid, whose relief, satisfaction and free flight is visible in his strokeplay in the ongoing Indian Premier League.
But yes, it's slightly different in Tendulkar's case. While Tendulkar is possessive about the game, his fans are possessive about him. While he can't imagine himself not playing cricket, his fans can't imagine an Indian team without him. But that's Tendulkar all through these 23 years in cricket, always a kid on the field. If it's about runs, he wants to make them; and if it's about wickets, he wants to take them. Tendulkar has always wanted to be in the thick of action, and not much has changed in that respect. So because of that love and attachment with the game, it's best to leave it to Tendulkar what he wants to do next.
Rather on his birthday, when he will also be reminded of the loss of his spiritual Guru, Satya Sai Baba, let's just wish Sachin Tendulkar peace, tranquillity and continuing success in whatever he goes on to do in the rest of his life.
Thank you, Master!