Maybe this step will finally let me rest in peace. Who knows what will happen? But I am optimistic. They say only losers take this extreme step, but I am a winner and not just any winner but India’s first Olympic gold medalist. Then why am I doing this? I have sponsorships raining, advertisers begging for a chat, journalists falling all over the place for my one photograph, invitations to grandest parties, Page 3 socialites and fashionistas swooning over me and with the Khel Ratna thrown in, I have taken away the spotlight from cricket’s poster boy Sachin Tendulkar. This entire cricket crazy nation adores me, reveres me and yet I am not happy. WHY? All this because of that blasted conscience, the values you instilled in me are my biggest enemies. They keep on irritating me; it’s not like I committed a crime, I just made a little mistake.
For the past few days, weeks actually, I haven’t been able to sleep. I feel numb and empty; those flashlights, girls and glamour no longer excite me.
You remember Ma when I was just eight and I had returned from my first fight with that fat bully Rajan. I had knocked him out with two quick punches. But that wasn’t the best part. Instead of reprimanding me or even slapping me, my sports coach marveled at my strength and sent a note to you “your son is going to train with me for boxing.”
From that day onwards, you would never have to run behind me with a glass of milk, I always begged for an extra glass. I did notice that your lips had lost the company of your eyes while smiling; the strain on your face was so visible. Maybe because I was eating more than what you could put on the table? I don’t know.
But one day, those lines had become really prominent. That maniacal coach; according to you, or genius, according to me wanted me to participate in the under 14 boxing championship. He always said during our practice sessions that he expected great things of me and I lived up to his expectations.
After all, in the finals, I knocked out a 50 kg body within three minutes. You remember that day, I came home full of glee with a gold medal clutched in my hand. That night, I resolved that sooner or later this would be replaced by an Olympic medal. Turns out it was a lot later than I expected. It took me a decade to realize this dream. For each of these ten years, I worked like a maniac. Silenced each and every damned critic, who thought a shortie like me (I never grew beyond 5 feet 1) could not hurt any of their towering giants.
You know Ma, every human worth his name runs behind power, fame and money. But only “intelligent fools” like me succeed. So after defeating anyone and everyone worth defeating, I flew to London, all set to get my medal.
Somehow I wasn’t taken too seriously there. The foreign media didn’t exactly like my air of arrogance and my sarcastic remarks. I suppose they did not know that they were meeting an Olympic gold medalist. Call it my arrogance again, but I got a special case made for my medal. Anyway, each and every time I entered the ring, the audience reaction was the same. First laughter and ridicule, then slight surprise and finally my favorite, AWE. After all you don’t see a dwarf felling gigantic boxing legends everyday.
And then suddenly I was being described as a witty and confident young man as opposed to the arrogant dwarf from the east, which I was originally called. Strange, eh how these journalists eat up their words and have such short memory spans. Instead of a rookie I was hailed as some genius and a serious contender for the medal. So finally to no one’s surprise, least mine, I became a finalist. The medal was mine I knew it but you know human nature. It is never satisfied. What I now wanted was a world record. Just imagine a guy, just 5 feet 1 inch tall, coming from a chawl in an obscure little town in Uttar Pradesh, becoming the first ever boxer winning a gold medal in 60 seconds flat. This little dream captured my fantasy. That’s it, that was my little dream and I wanted to fulfill it badly, Joginder Sharma’s name written in golden words in the record books.
If you think that I did something stupid as taking drugs, then you are wrong Ma. Your son never breaks rules, but surely he can bend them a little bit sometimes. So I will tell you what I did. I simply added a sleeping tablet into my coffee and offered it to my opponent standing right behind me. The poor bloke thought I was being polite. There is no such rule saying that you can’t drug your opponent. So I did nothing wrong. The commentators thought he looked drowsy, but the tests did not reveal anything amiss. You see, they were not designed to detect sleeping tablets.
And I fulfilled my little dream. The world was at my feet. I was congratulated by the President and the Prime Minister; I had lunch with Chief Ministers. Everybody was offering some or the other cash reward. From a little chawl I moved into an eight bedroom mansion. My name was on everybody’s lips. At first I was elated but slowly, this elation became despair. I slipped into depression.
Why? I screamed I have not done anything wrong I shouted at empty walls. But that nasty little voice hit back saying, you did not win on merit, on the strength you were so proud of. I was a winner Ma, anybody in their right mind could see that I could have won without that stupid tablet. I just wanted a record, that’s it. But that voice kept taunting me with its snide comments.
I needed a confidant yes I needed a confidant, I thought. Little did I know that this revelation would kill my coach. That poor morally upright man died of heart attack in a few days time. I wallowed in self pity, I consoled myself, but nothing worked. And now after six months of living this torturous life, I am tired.
So bye Ma, I know it seems inadequate but I don’t know a fancy way to say this. The PR man hasn’t taught me this. Bye Ma, don’t cry because I hate tears.
………India’s first Olympic gold medalist Joginder Sharma found dead, we will get you the exact details after the break……
She clutched the letter in her hand; a solitary tear fell down her face as she sent a silent prayer for her son.
P.S: I am grateful to Arpita from Indian Beauty Centre for publishing my review on her blog. You can read it over here: http://indianbeautycenter.blogspot.in/2013/07/vaseline-total-moisture-aloe-fresh.html