Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the ugliest of them all? Judging by the media obsession with Sachin Tendulkar's retirement, the answer is obvious.
After India's defeat at Mumbai, the debate is less about reasons for the loss and more about why Tendulkar is being so obstinate and not willing to call it a day. This line of thought also implies that England won because Tendulkar failed, and as long as he is playing India would continue to lose.
Presuming for a moment that Tendulkar is not in the team, will it change anything? Will India become a transformed side and give England the licking we wanted our team to inflict on them? Will it compensate for the way we are structuring our cricket, where the riches of IPL and the havoc it plays with the genuine skills of the game is resulting in our losing even our home advantage.
Post the 2011 World Cup win, the signs that our Test team would plummet to a new low were to be seen everywhere. Have we done anything to correct this self-created imbalance, because of which it might be impossible to have an archetypal Test cricketer anymore?
An idolised figure
A sporting environment where a Cheteshwar Pujara will be an aberration and not a norm, has been thrust upon us, but we are unwilling to look into the mirror and see what even a blind man won't be able to ignore.
Imagine being led in Test cricket by a man who lacks even the basics of what a quintessential Test player should be. A one-day champion can be a pauper in the longer version of the game and MS Dhoni is a classic example of that. But no, we are not interested in confronting these serious issues that have led to where we stand today.
For us, it is all about one man. Even if that man happens to be Sachin Tendulkar, the most idolised figure in the nation's sporting history.
We create heroes in a second and villains out of the same people the moment they fail. If that failure coincides with India's defeat, then not even God can save that man from being lynched.
In our pathological desire for seeking an object that should never fail, we invest our idols with powers even Gods would envy. For the past two decades, Tendulkar was that figure, who mocked at mortality, broke all cricketing barriers and filled that void in our life which makes us feel inadequate and limited. When we looked in the mirror, what stared back at us was not our own face but Tendulkar's, rock solid, immortal, one of us, but above all failures. A God-like figure, who strode the sporting world like no one had ever done.
The last year or so, it suddenly dawned upon us that immortality is a mirage and even Tendulkar is subject to the laws of nature. How dare he fail, that too repeatedly. That he should go is the unanimous verdict.
No, we can't give him time and space to choose his moment to walk into the sunset. We no longer trust the man to assess his place in the team and form and decide the right time for him to go.
Today, when we look into the mirror, the face that it reflects is of a man we believed was God. What a tragedy to be a Sachin Tendulkar in this world of ours.