All Walled Up!

What makes a great speech? I don’t really know. But I do know that if the honesty of the speaker comes across, it becomes a moving experience. We all remember the Obama spectacle that moved thousands across the world, including yours truly, to teary-eyed goosebumps. It was hard to believe that we were witness to this.

I remember the days of elocution contests when we feverishly hunted for great speeches of all times and tried to bring as much fervour and expression as we could into them. Later, when we heard the actual speeches, they sounded rather flat. But they were still great speeches, whether it was Nehru’s tryst with destiny, or Mark Antony’s exhortation to friends, Romans, and countrymen, or Winston Churchill’s blood, toil, tears and sweat.

After a really long time, reading this speech by Rahul Dravid gave me the same feeling. I was moved alternately to laughter and tears, nodding my head in agreement at various points, and feeling Wow! at the end.

Now, I’m not an avid cricket fan. I don’t have stats at the tips of my fingers or remember ball-by-ball accounts of every wicket taken in XYZ match at ABC venue in the year NNNN. I enjoy Harsha Bogle’s commentary, but go for the mute button when Gavaskar comes on. I rejoiced when we won the 1983 Prudential World Cup, and danced with fellow residents when we won the World cup this year (this year? it feels like so long ago!).

But I’ve been a fan of Rahul Dravid as far as I can remember, the simple reason being that I have a real weakness for gentlemen. Rahul Dravid comes across as genuine, with almost a single-mided focus on his cricket. Of course, I am commenting on his public persona with little knowledge of how he really is, but this speech seemed to reinforce every opinion I had about him. The gentle humour, the eye for detail and context, the self-awareness, the straightforward way of putting his point across, and the utmost dignity that is maintained throughout. I’d have liked to see the video of this speech, but that didn’t detract anything from the substance of the speech.

I’ve seen Dravid a few times at the school gates, waiting to pick up his little son. He was, to my surprise, quite tall. He always maintained a low profile, picked up his son and was away in the blink of an eye, without any fuss at all. It was exactly what I admired him for.

The speech itself is delightful in the way it brings together such diverse thoughts so appropriately. He represented India in a way that felt so true to me, and made me feel proud.

I’m definitely not a person who goes gaga over any celebrity, but I’ll be happy to make an exception. The Wall has earned my complete, undying admiration!

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