Nidhi inhaled and exhaled deeply. ‘Be calm, Be calm…’ she muttered under her breath.
Her whole life flashed before her eyes…just a few seconds, a few more seconds….damn…!!
Born to an unmarried mother, life was not a cake walk for Nidhi.
With no support from the family and society ,her Mother had struggled a lot to bring her up. Nidhi grew up seeing her Mother’s sufferings, fumbling in the hatred and mockery of the society.
The social stigma attached to her, for being born out of an illegitimate relationship, was more than what Nidhi could bear. She could see how people treated her Mother. One simple mistake of her life had condemned the woman to a life of humiliation. They lived in social isolation and were subjected to great disrespect. Her mother fought a lone battle , but the ordeal was a little too much for little Nidhi.
Nidhi was a very difficult child to raise, constantly making her mother very worried. On most of the days, she would get into fights – physical or verbal . On numerous occasions , parents of other kids came to her Mother, dragging their wounded kids, shouting abuses, warning her to keep her ‘harami’ daughter under control.
Her school had threatened to expel her if she continued her ‘ violent’ behavior. Her mother tried making her understand, explained to her that getting angry was not going to help, but nothing could change Nidhi. All the unfairness, humiliation and isolation that she was subjected to came out as anger and hatred. She was like a volcano that would explode at the slightest touch. Even the gentlest provocation would make her pounce on the offender.
One day mother and daughter were returning home from the market. Nidhi was 13 years old.On the way a bunch of drunkards started spluttering obscenities at them. “Walk faster Nidhi” her mother whispered.”Don’t look back”
But that did not help.The men started following them and their gestures and comments soon started crossing all borders. That was a kind of breaking point for Nidhi, in spite of knowing that she was no match for these heavily built Men, she turned and started abusing them back. When this did not satisfy her , she started picking up stones and pelting it on them.”Nidhi, n..Nidhi stop” her Mother was crying aloud.
The men were caught by surprise and for a moment couldn’t decide how to react. Meanwhile, a heavy stone that Nidhi threw hit the gang leader in his eyes and he started bleeding profusely. The Men were infuriated, but Nidhi’s antics had caught the attention of a few onlookers and had forced them to come forward.
“Run Nidhi…” her mother pulled her hand and dragged her along her.
Next morning, a policeman knocked their door and informed them that the man had lost the sight of his injured eye and had filed a complaint against the girl.
“Sir…but it was him who was attacking us.My daughter just did it in self defense…”,her mother started crying.”Spare her Sir…you can tell them that I did it…”
Nidhi stood in the corner of the room and glared at the inspector. The policeman had not listened to her mother’s plea and had taken them to the station. The inspector , in his mid thirties,did not look very friendly.
“Very angry…huh” he guffawed.
“Yeah Sir…this girl gets in to fights with innocent kids almost everyday. You must hear some of the story that their neighbors have to say.She almost bit my finger off when I tried to get her here” the other policeman raised his injured palm.
“What makes you this angry young woman?…That guy has lost his left eye….do you know how serious it is?And biting a police man…you little monkey…”
Nidhi continued staring, her face did not show the fear that was bubbling within her stomach.
“See how she stares..do you want a smack..” another policewoman waved her stick.
The inspector raised his hand and turned to Nidhi’s mother, who was cowering in the corner, her eyes red and puffy.
“We have inquired around. Witnesses have confirmed that the men were misbehaving, but that does not give any one any right to take law in to their hands. Do you know what will happen if I register a complaint? She will have to spend at at least 6 months in juvenile home….Do you understand the seriousness..?”
“No Sir, please don’t….I can do what ever you want me to.She is the only one I have got in this world.She won’t repeat it…I give you my word..Please Sir…” Her mothers voice was weak and anxious.
“Where is the girls father?” the inspector raised his eyebrows.
Her mother remained silent and glanced at the floor.
After a moments silence the man continued.”I am not registering the case… But the injured guy has a bad reputation.So you have to be careful…” Her mother nodded anxiously and let out a involuntary gasp of relief.
“..And you…” the inspector turned towards Nidhi..”Stop staring at me…so much anger….huh…can’t you channelize this for something useful??”
Nidhi lowered her eyes.” Do you know what boxing is…?”
Nidhi slowly raised her eyes and saw the inspector looking at her with a smile.
The inspector, whom she later began to call Captain, was an ex-boxer and he had volunteered to train her . Training herself to be boxer was something that changed Nidhi’s life, she put all her anger, all her pain into the sport and it greatly helped her to get a grip on her fury.
After few months of initial training, she proved that she was just tailor made for this. Her mother ,with the help of the inspector, had sent her to a sports coaching academy, where she was further coached and fine tuned.
Today, 15 years hence, she was here in London, in the boxing ring for the finals of the prestigious Woman’s lightweight boxing event .
The referee continued to count” ..3..2..1..0…..” The crowd was counting along, she held her breath.Her opponent lay still, not showing any signs of recovery.The bell rang….and the crowd erupted into a loud cheer.
The referee proceeded to raise her arms and declared her the winner.
Nidhi was still in a daze , she turned back to spot her Mother and Captain in the audience and gave them a very watery smile.