It can't be easy being Sachin Tendulkar. At an age when kids must have fancied an ice-cream, a quick dash to the movie hall during school hours or an evening out just killing time and having fun with friends, Tendulkar had already made the step up from boy to man, dedicating himself to cricket. His life has revolved around cricket for three decades now - that's more than three-quarters of his time on the earth - and for a majority of that period, he has been under intense, occasionally unforgiving, scrutiny.
Boy wonder when he made his India debut at 16, Tendulkar has long since graduated to mature adult. The passage of time and a multitude of injuries which have ravaged nearly every part of his body have necessitated changes to his style of batting, but the one constant has been the weight of expectations that Tendulkar has managed to carry with aplomb for so long, without complaint or visible signs of irritation.
Tendulkar has remained the ultimate symbol of Indian batsmanship, a source of joy and succour, of permanence and dependability. During his worst phases with the bat - and for someone who has been plying his wares at the highest level for some 23 seasons now, those have been remarkably minimal - he has remained outwardly calm and focused even if the demons have been eating away at the insides. He has fed off a frenzy of goodwill and roused himself to shed the shackles imposed by injuries, advancing years, opposition game plans and his own fallibilities.