Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar – the name itself evokes respect and admiration. If there is one thing clear about the god of cricket is that he isn’t easily stumped. But the one person who managed to do the unthinkable was Anjali Mehta. Their love story has always been much spoken about, considering the very public stature of Sachin Tendulkar. But it is commendable, how the couple managed to keep it real, despite the arch-lights and tough times.
Their story of love and unbreakable partnership makes you believe in love, the one that will last.
It was love at first sight for both of them, but who made the first move? Anjali.
They shared glances at an airport, and of course, it was love. Sachin categorically remembered what she wore when he saw her for the first time, while she made copies of a newspaper cutting of him and pasted in every notebook she had. Anjali knew him to be shy and that for them to work, she will have to make that extra effort.
Which she did, from masquerading as a journalist to meet him at home, to ask him out, Anjali went after her love. At an India Today conclave, she opened up about how it was love at first sight for both of them,
I didn’t know who he was, whether he was 17 or whatever. I looked at him at the airport and found him to be really cute. My friend Aparna was there with me and she knew him and told me this was the ‘wonder boy of Indian cricket everyone was talking about’ but I didn’t know anything about cricket. I just ran after him.
Anjali did not know who Sachin was, she knew nothing about the game, and yet they found common ground to carry forward their relationship and make it work.
It was all written in the stars.
When she met Sachin, Anjali did not know anything about the game. In fact, she could have met him earlier when she was in London, but did not. She says it was all destined to happen a particular way for them. They wrote letters to each other during their courtship days, she walked miles from her campus to call him up when he was travelling overseas, Sachin would drive to her hospital to be with her. Anjali, in an interview, said,
I’ve not known any other person in my life except Sachin. I understand him so well. So whether I am his girlfriend or his wife, it’s the same thing, just an extension of that bond.
She was marrying a legend. Anjali did not know the game or what stature he enjoyed, but she made efforts to get to know the sport better so they spoke the same language.
Sachin has admitted on several occasions that had it not been for Anjali’s sacrifices, he would not have made it this far in cricket. Anjali is a doctor by profession but when they wanted to raise a family, Anjali decided to take a step back. Not an easy choice for anyone who loves their work so much, but Anjali decided to let her man concentrate on his game and win laurels for the country, without having to worry about anything else. Not many can be this selfless in love.
They have been unwavering pillars of support for each other.
In 1999, India was playing the World Cup in England. On the eve of the game, Sachin was with his friend Atul Ranade in his hotel room, when the bell rang. He opened the door to find Anjali standing in the corridor. She had driven from London to Leicester late in the night to convey a terrible piece of news. Ramesh Tendulkar, Sachin’s father had passed away.
He went back to India with her. Performed the last rites and said goodbye to the man he had always looked up to. Anjali and his mother convinced him to go back to England. Sachin knew that his father would have also wanted it. Sachin scored a century in the match against Kenya.
When Sachin struggled, through his career, Anjali was the hand he held on to, the hand that led him out of every trouble.
In his autobiography and several interviews, Sachin has always thanked Anjali for being with him when he most wanted and needed her, for carrying him through his debacles, for taking his tantrums and mood swings. Any career is wrought with hardships and struggles, difficult to imagine Sachin struggling with much, but he is a champion because he had a champion at home, the woman who stood by him like a rock and gave him the support he needed to overcome difficulties.
A beautiful marriage with two lovely children, Sachin and Anjali’s relationship is a testament to how all you need is love. No matter who you are, where you are, if you love each other, you can survive anything and make it work.