It was about closing time for the bank. Customers have already been restricted to enter earlier. Mihir, the gatekeeper of the bank is very punctual and strict about bank start and closing time. He never allows any customer to enter the bank post 4:00 PM.
He is a man in his forties, athletic build. Other than his duty as a gatekeeper, sometimes he runs errands for the bank employees after his duty time in return of some extra money. He lives with his wife and daughter in a nearby suburb.
Today was of no difference. After closing the gate from inside, Mihir went to bank manager’s cabin for further instructions. The manager asked him to bring a betel leaf from nearby store. It was right time for the manager to enjoy completion of another workday by having betel leaf with processed tobacco and cigarette. Other employees were also about to finish their task and leave for the day. It was drizzling outside.
Mihir came back in sometimes with betel leaf in his chest pocket. He came inside by the back door of the office. He was carrying an umbrella on his left hand and a white carry bag on the right. He put the umbrella on outside veranda and went inside the manager’s cabin.
The read beacon flashed with alarm on top of the door of the manager’s cabin. Rest of the employees understood the signal. They all went inside the cabin one by one. When all of the bank staff was inside the small cabin, they could see a box of sweet placed on the table. The manager asked everyone to have sweets from the box. The employees started taking one each from the box. One of them asked the manager the reason for this sudden treat. The manager replied that it was Mihir, who had arranged for this sweet. Mihir smiled looking at them standing in one corner. The manager then asked Mihir to explain the reason for this.
Everyone looked at Mihir with a smile. Mihir became a bit nervous but he was very happy and proud inside and it showed from his outlook. He took out a picture from his left chest pocket and showed everyone. It was a picture of three girls standing on a podium. The girl in the middle was holding a trophy in her hands and wore a gold medal. Others wore silver and bronze medals.
He put the picture on the table for everyone to have a look. He then pointed his finger at the girl in the middle holding winner’s trophy.
“She is my daughter” he said taking pride. “She has just turned 10 and won badminton championship in her school last week. Her coach was very happy with her performance. She will get chance to attend training for the states junior championship in two years. She had won this trophy and a scholarship for her training program”.
He paused for a moment and again started “You all are aware of my financial condition, I cannot do much for her training and education at once. So, she worked really hard to get that scholarship and finally received it. Her teachers say that she would be as good as Saina Nehwal. When I was young, I was very passionate about football but in India, there was no other sport than Cricket. I yearned for a good coach or some local scholarship to live for my passion which was football but I did not get any. There was not much opportunity.
Now, when I look at the newspaper, I could see sports section is not only filled with cricket news. Cricket is dominant, but the scene has changed a lot these days. Do not know for good or bad, but I feel some more people like us would be able to work hard and dream when I see news of sport person from rural India taking India to participate in international platforms.
Moreover, you take any sports in this country; most of the hype is with male teams. When I first saw my daughters’ interest in badminton, I was worried of gender discrimination and lack of resources for women players in any game. Now a day, the scene is also changing. Women athletes are in limelight for good. We are getting more resources for female players in some of the games. Thanks to the achievers who had the courage to make a difference and show the country new paths. They have shown the entire country to dream for other than male cricket.
I just wanted to share my joy with all of you. I feel immensely proud when I look at this photograph. It gives me good hope for the future of sportsmen and women in my country. It gives me hope that I would be able to provide a better future that my daughter deserves. The honour she must get.”