I was 14 when he made his debut at the age of 16 against Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in test cricket. It was in an exhibition match (a 20-20 match 20 years too early) that he showed us what he is capable of, hitting Abdul Qadir out of the attack with a 18 ball 53. More importantly, he showed us what is possible. Then came the final test where he was hit in the nose by a Waqar Younis lifter. He was bleeding, but refused to leave the ground and hit the next ball for a four. It gave us the satisfaction of punching the school bully.
From then on, we hitched ourselves to him. He became the icon of our generation. No, we used to call him God. He was out there batting for us, showing us what is possible with skill and attitude. His successes became ours. From his first test century at Headingley, to his first match as opener in an ODI (again he showed us what is possible, with a 48 ball 84), it was us out there. When Shane Warne said he had nightmares about Sachin, we felt as if we had beat our boss in his game (by now we were in the corporate world). Sachin's millions, his Ferrari - it was all ours.
The first hint of immortality came during his greatest knock, the 136 against Pakistan in Chennai. In the second innings, leading the team within 17 runs of an improbable victory. That was when we knew that even Gods fail. Still, we blindly kept adoring him. His upper cut of Shoaib Akhtar in 2003 worldcup assured us, the old man(blasphemy) is still the best. That we could still compete with youngsters and be counted. His form has been erratic over the last year, but still we don't want to believe that he might be past his prime. For if he is past his prime, so are we. You see, it was never about him, it was about us