2005. The year I was inducted in the indian national team.
The first time I realized what it meant to be an indian. The way the Tricolour felt under my fingers, on my tracksuit & my tee. It was an incredible feel. Carrying your flag on your chest is not just a fashion statement, but a tremendous responsibility.
It was a chilly morning that we stepped into the Bangkok airport & then you see people staring at you, recognizing the tricolour on the tracksuits & tees & then whispering amongst themselves. The way it felt to be an Indian, was beyond expressing in mere words. The chest swelled with pride… the walk got an added swagger & a new zeal of performing to the best of your capabilities became all the more pronounced in the subconscious.
I got my first feeler of being under scrutiny for being an indian, when a storekeeper refused to let me enter the store because I was an indian & they’ve had some rough experiences with Indians in the past. The hostility & the resentment in their eyes are something I can never forget. It changed something in me. Made me vow in my head to keep myself so pristine & proper in my actions that people learn to respect Indians & my country never has to look down coz her sons were incapable of upkeeping her honour in a foreign land.
I think that thought was what made me so ferocious & aggressive in my approach & perspective towards delivering an extremely tough competition to any archer i encountered in any competition. I always felt the honour of my tricolour was at stake & each arrow of mine would have the same responsibility of being as close to perfection as was humanly possible. I remember scoring a thumping victory in the Asian Grand Prix in Antalya, against the Chinese Taipei archer & I remember the way I roared & I remember the way i felt when I saw “Sanand IND”, go higher up in the ranking list. It was a heady feel.
I am not so good with expressions but today is 26th Jan, the Republic Day of India & the way i feel about my country is not a fashion that comes once or twice a year, but its the foremost thought & the driving force behind all my personal & professional goals.
In my family, we might forget festivals, but the Independence & Republic days are NEVER forgotten & the entire family wishes each other the same. Maa’s always had a wish that I represent the nation & make it a proud mother & I have. I was just listening to a very “my kinda tribute to indian Independence” as I would like to call it.
and I was moved… Even after doing soo much for my country, I yet feel that I havent done anything for it… The country & the tricolour feels sooo much like my mother… Just ask it to bless me with enough strength to serve it all my life & make it a proud mother.
Maa tujhe salaam… I utterly & irrevocably love my India..