By Qaiser Mohammad Ali
Dhaka : He sends 1,000 litchis to Sachin Tendulkar every year in appreciation for the match tickets that the batting maestro gives him. He once threatened self-immolation if he was not given lifelong guarantee of tickets to watch all India matches.
Meet Sudhir Kumar Chaudhary, the cricket-crazy fan who has the Indian flag painted on his body. With his entire torso, face and his head painted in the colours of the national flag with the words 'Sachin Tendulkar' boldly written over, the 26-year-old from Bihar could be seen cheering for the Indian team by tirelessly waving a huge Indian tricolour at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
"I have dedicated my entire life to cricket, and there is no looking back at my decision," Chaudhary, who is also a regular at all matches in India, told IANS here.
"Sachin has promised me that he would provide me with the tickets of all international matches played in the country, and he is living up to his words. He is like a god to me," said Chaudhary.
As a gesture of gratitude, Chaudhary travels down to Tendulkar's Mumbai home to present him with litchis every summer.
"I have been presenting him 1,000 litchis every year since 2004. By the time I return to India after this Test match, the litchis would be ripe and I will take another 1,000 for him soon," he said excitedly.
"I have also presented litchis to Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly. And I have promised Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh that I would also send them the litchis this year," said Chaudhary, who has travelled from his native Muzaffarpur district to Bangladesh on his bicycle for the current series.
While Tendulkar has assured him of tickets in the matches he plays, Chaudhary is worried of the time after Tendulkar retires.
"Last year Sachin did not play a match and I missed that because only he gives me the tickets. After that I met the cricket board president Pawar thrice in Delhi and requested him to guarantee me one match ticket for my entire life. I don't want any money," he said.
Chaudhary met Pawar thrice in six days in April last year, but he failed to eke out a guarantee from him.
"After he ignored me twice, I took an appointment in the name of another person. I covered my painted body with a 'chadar' (sheet) and removed it in front of him," he said of his meeting.
"I told him clearly that if he does not guarantee me one ticket for every international match in India, I will immolate myself in protest. He persuaded me not to do so, but did not give me any guarantee either."
Chaudhary is a bachelor and said he has decided to remain single entire life.
"I don't want to ruin a girl's life by marrying her because I am always travelling to watch matches. It's because even after Sachin retires, I will continue to follow and encourage the Indian team," he said.
Chaudhary used to work in a milk company in Muzaffarpur and later passed an examination to become a teacher. But after the cricket bug bit him, he quit the job. "I now survive on public support," he said unashamedly, without elaborating on his source of income.