harsha bhogle
In Picture: Former cricketers Kapil Dev and VVS Laxman with cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle during a programme in New DelhiIANS

It is a shameful fact that the contributions of Kapil Dev, the legendary trailblazer who pushed cricket to the forefront of the national and international consciousness when the only international laurels India had earned were eight hockey golds at the Olympics, may be alien to the millions who call themselves cricket fanboys.

He might have a list of awe inspiring accolades to his name, but this evidently hasn't affected him and he instead exhibits a cool aura of humility.

Speaking to the students of the prestigious Shri Ram School Moulsari, Kapil Dev, in an inspiring commencement speech, had many valuable lessons and experiences to share with a hall full of students, teachers and parents.

"I'm often invited to schools, and I say two things. Would you like to give autographs or like to take autographs. You need to decide what you need to become today.There is a phrase in Hindi "jahan se ham khade ho jate hain, wahan se line honi chaiye (It's not important where you stand, you should lead the way)," he said.

Perhaps momentarily reminiscent of the allegations of match fixing that had reduced the ace cricketer to tears on national television, Dev, while describing one of his many heroes, cited the legacy of Nelson Mandela, who even after spending 27 years in jail, surprised everyone by pardoning his enemies and critics upon his release.

Respect your teachers he said to the children, forgive them even if they punish you without sufficient reason.

In a new avatar, rather than the fierce former Indian cricketer who captained the Indian cricket team that won the 1983 Cricket World Cup, Dev appeared as a gentle suburban father reminding children that they must be passionate about achieving the impossible.

Your parents want you to better. Better than they did in their life. That's their dream and you must be leaders, you have a responsibility, towards your teacher, towards your parents, and to your country"

It's not important or likely that his cricket records will remain in-tact, records are meant to be broken. People will take more wickets and score more centuries and win more world cups. In Kapil's own words, life as a cricketer has taught him humour, sometimes your'e out on a duck and other times you score a hundred.

It doesn't matter that Dev, in a few years, like his hero may also be a victim of the Mandela effect -- a term that describes a situation where a number of people have memories that are different from available evidence and was coined after many people around the world remember Nelson Mandela dying in 1980s while in prison, rather than in 2013. But for those who listened to his speech, the legend's words will transcend time and will continue to be a motivating force that will drive them through the strength of his character and his passion to inspire others by example.

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