An open letter to a real life Hero!
Dear Mr. Dravid
It has been on the back of my mind to write this note for the past two weeks, but I could make it only today.
My kids apparently happen to attend the same school as your kid. In the last couple of years, of the many days I had been to school to drop or pickup my kid, I have seen you quite often in the school – you were also visiting school to drop / pickup your kid.
The very first day when I spotted you – you were giving me a feel that you only wanted to be considered as ‘yet another’ parent coming to the school to drop/pickup his kid. You were almost hiding behind a parked car, trying to avoid any eye contact with the small crowd of parents who were waiting there. I was actually amused to note that an international sports personality like you was looking uncomfortable in the very small crowd – maybe it was just my perception, but you were trying to keep to yourself.
In the following days, being a hardcore cricket fan, my spouse was excited to spot you in school and promptly update us back home – I was surprised that you were much more frequent to school than I was. Even with my kind of IT senior management position(may be every other Bangalore engineer in his/her 40s today are in a similar position), I really have to squeeze my schedule to make it to school and let me tell you, I was not all that frequent to school even then. With your kind of international profile which has lot of travel and commitments, you probably are more consistent in your school visits was my conclusion.
Given that I just follow cricket as part of general news interest, I did not give much of a thought about your school visits beyond this. Then I suddenly realized that my spouse was more enthusiastic about dropping our kid to school for the simple reason that the international cricketer can be seen in school. Again, I was so surprised that seeing you in the morning almost made my spouse’s day so bright. Infact, I was again thinking that one of the days when I see you, I need to come to you and say THANK YOU - as you were one of the reasons to bring happiness into the day. Of course, I never made it as I was as lazy as anyone can get in translating a thought into action.
Slowly, at the end of first year I found you have made friends with some parents and was more comfortable making small conversations in a small group. I felt good for you because I thought being a celebrity definitely cribs some freedom which a common individual takes for granted.
In the last couple of years, my kid grew and was becoming much more obsessed with cricket than what I can imagine for a kid of his age. He has started watching sports channels on TV for hours together – replay of past cricket matches. He is with his cricket bat all the time and was out with friends for hours playing cricket – I was amazed on how cricket (probably any game) can mould the character of a 7 year old kid.
As the IPL season started this year, my kids ware all over it. It was IPL, IPL all day long, on all days of the week. The school was almost ending. I had to be more frequent to school. And couple of days I saw you being in the crowd of parents waiting to pick your kid. Again, I was surprised that you could make it to school even in-between the IPL season.
It was one such strenuous day,29th March – drop the kid in the morning to school, go to office, finish some of the review meetings, keep looking at the watch and dash back to school by noon to pick up the kid. I was delayed that day. When I reached school, parents have already picked up their kids and on the way back. I was rushing into the gate and I saw you coming out of the school gate in a bright red T-shirt with your kid, making serious conversations about how the day was. I could not stop thinking even in my hurry that you indeed are putting in your efforts as a good parent – and I vaguely could remember that you have an impending match in two days in a different city. I thought “this guy should be a sincere guy – doing his best as a parent”.
And then I get into the school, expecting my kid to be upset over my delay. And I was in for a surprise !!! The moment he spotted me – he came running to me. I could see he was so thrilled and happy about something. I waited for him to break the news. He said “Dravid was in school today. Look here, I got his autograph.” He started opening his school bag and started pulling out his pencil box. I realized suddenly that he never had any notebook with him to get an autograph (it was a class monthly review day and no notebooks) and so I asked him “where did you get the autograph?” By this time, he has pulled out his pencil box. He opens it and takes a piece of paper which is just 2 inches, a hurriedly torn corner of a page. I could see the pencil signature of yours in that piece of paper and I was STUNNED on two counts. One - that my kid (a first grader) can suddenly become so confident to approach you to get an autograph and Two – you obliged to sign with a pencil in a 2” torn paper.
I started all the questions “How many of you got his autograph? Why did you not get a bigger paper? What did Dravid say to you?” My kid was all proud and with his head high, he answers “only few of us, we did not make a queue; I just jumped near him and got his signature. I did not have any notebook and I borrowed this paper from my friend. “. I again ask him – “What did Dravid say to you?”. He said as a matter of fact, with his head high still “Guys, give me a bigger paper, it is very difficult to sign in small paper with a short pencil”!!
I was impressed…. by your simplicity. Honestly, till then I had never given much of a thought about you than the time I see you in school, but this gesture from you definitely made me realize that you indeed are a hero in the true sense – just not only as a role model cricketer for the millions across India, but as a sincere parent to your kids and as a sincere obliging “down to earth” individual who wants to respect the wish of even a 7 year old kid.
My kid is going to cherish this autograph of yours in a 2 inch paper for the rest of his life and I am going to constantly endeavor to imbibe this simplicity and sincerity of yours in my life! Kudos to you! You are a real life hero even outside your cricket!!
(I could have shared my appreciation in person when the next school term starts, but I honestly respect your personal space as a parent)