Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar walked out of the changing room and gestured to Sudhir Gautam to come up. Gautam is the thin, pale man with a shaven head and body covered in the Indian tri-colour. He is the man you would have seen recently with a miniature replica of the World Cup hanging atop his head. For at least half a decade now, Gautam has been Tendulkar's biggest fan, waving the Indian flag and blowing his conch shell at every venue Tendulkar plays. On Saturday, Tendulkar decided to repay Gautam for his devotion.
No sooner had he realised that Tendulkar was calling, than Gautam jumped the electronic advertising hoarding and then skipped up the 30-odd stairs on to the corridor of the Indian changing room. All through his short journey he screamed in delight. Tendulkar shook hands with him, then embraced him and finally asked one of his teammates to get the World Cup trophy. Zaheer Khan brought the cup outside with utmost care and held it tight. Gautam virtually snatched it out of the hands of the tournament's joint-highest wicket-taker. But Zaheer held on to the crown still. Eventually Gautam lifted the Cup with both hands as Zaheer let go. As soon as Gautam lifted the Cup and screamed "Indiaa", Tendulkar could not help but smile. He even clapped and was joined in appreciation by a few of his teammates. The sweat on Tendulkar's face glistened under the floodlights, enhancing his joy of winning the World Cup .
It was a day when the common man felt he was part of something special. A day when the common man thought he had achieved something remarkable. A day when cherished dreams were realised. The first Saturday of April 2011 will remain unforgettable for a generation of Indians. Even as Gautam became the envy of people like me as he freely slipped in and out of the most sought after place in India, the team's dressing room, the players' families milled around, participating in the celebrations. Dhoni held his wife Sakshi close to him; Virender Sehwag hugged his wife Aarti and son Aryavir; Ashish Nehra's wife wore a replica of her husband's team shirt as she moved in and out of the dressing room. Gary Kirsten's wife Deborah joined the rest later. Yuvraj Singh, returning from the media conference, started shaking his leg as he entered the dressing room. On his way inside, he had let out a screeching noise of jubilation.