“8th, 9th ki padhaai mein acchi thi wo. Phir usne mujhe kaha ki usey games karna hai. Maine use kaafi games dikhaye athletics, gymnastics, wrestling… par usey wrestling mein hi dilchaspi thi.” (“She was good in academics during her class 8 and 9. It is around that time she told me about her interest in games. I exposed her to a few types and she chose wrestling.”) These were the words of her mother. Ms. Sakshi Malik won a Bronze medal for wrestling in Rio Olympics 2016. In a single day, she fought five bruising battles in the 58 kg category. India is thrilled beyond measure. Congratulatory wishes are pouring in for Ms. Malik and her family. The former deserves all the adulation for the hard work; the process of which has definitely been unglamorous and painful. The latter deserves credit for being the wind beneath her wings, without which she may not have had the courage to choose and persevere. The media was careful in tagging her as a ‘Bus conductor ki beti’ (“The daughter of a bus conductor”) while wondering, “Usne kaise jeeta medal?” (“How did she win the medal?”) Although the media seemed to be well intended in portraying the fact that Ms. Malik went against all financial odds to reach Rio; it also slipped into communicating the entire barrage of associations that go with the two words, ‘bus conductor’ and ‘beti’. In our country, both have it tough. If you can survive living that reality while nurturing a sustained dream of making it big in life; you have already come half way to your destination.
“Maine har stage pe Sakshi ko kaha ki Sakshi ye karna hai… koshish nahi, dedication rakho ki mujhe karna hi karna hai. Uska bahot jyada aage jaane ka sapna hai.” (I have instructed Sakshi at every stage. I categorically told her that she should not just try; she should determine. She dreams of going really ahead in life) Mr. Mahavir Prasad, Ms. Malik’s coach, was exhilarated during his media interview about her victory. His presence, along with her family’s, is a proof that a support system is crucial for a person whose potential is bursting to be off the leashes and win over. The country is now awaiting Ms. Malik’s return to India so that she can share with us an elaborate insider story of her victory. For now, let us suffice ourselves by her short statement which not only demonstrates her happiness but also her grace amid the ecstasy of her victory, “Meri 12 saal ki tapasya rang layi. (“My 12 years’ hard work finally yielded great results.”) Geeta didi, my senior had qualified for the first time in London. I never thought I would become the first woman wrestler from India to bag an Olympic medal in wrestling. I hope the remaining wrestlers will also do well.”
The only sore to the eyes was the media ticker which ran through a news channel, “Hindustan ki shaan, Sakshi bani Sultan.” Why ‘Sultan’? Why not ‘Malika’ from her last name ‘Malik’? Does she need to be portrayed as a man so that her success seems unprecedented? Does her victory need to be remotely linked to a man who feels like a rape victim while shooting a fictional feature film for commercial purpose? Wrestling or not, Ms. Malik deserves adulation for wanting to work hard, going out there and working hard and attaining success basis that grit which has withstood many obstacles. She also deserves Kudos for having the grace to share her success by attributing it to a country which is slowly but surely working for its women. India is also a legislative and judicial ‘bronze medal’ for upholding human life and dignity. To win gold, it must now roll its sleeves up and work harder. More Sakshis will be born and made.
Great going girl, you made two people proud – you and…us.