My parents and I moved to a town in Kerala called Ottapalam, then a panchayat, in 1975. My siblings were away, my father retired, and for the want of anything to do, he marked a little badminton court outside our house, and thus began my journey with badminton. But this is not my story, but that of my town,
my school and my beloved teacher.
My parents had little money to spare, but I was given two racquets by well wishers, two sets of white badminton shorts and T shirts, as in those days playing in whites was a norm. While most of the time I played in an outdoor court, I used to travel to Palakkad, some 32 kms away, for a couple weeks before tournaments, to familiarize myself with conditions in an indoor stadium. In the process, lost several hours of class. You must understand that this was a time when sport, and badminton, was not as popular as it is today. The principal, the teachers of LSN convent, all stepped forward to support me in all ways possible. They did this, without charging a penny, out of the goodness of their heart. Even my coaches were from the district, state, university. I never paid for coaching either.
But the person who stands out the most is my Physical Education teacher, Savitri teacher, as we fondly called her. Playing in an outdoor court, in a state that is inundated by rain through 8 months of the year is a nightmare. So the best time to play is 6 in the morning, when you hope it wouldn’t be either rainy or windy. A tall order I guess. My teacher, would come there every morning at 6, to ensure that I played. She also made sure that I had people to practice with, as within a year I was better than her. What makes it even more impressive is that she had 4 sons, who she left in the care of sister, when she came to watch me play. She was tall, gracious, with a great sense of humour, and I could always feel her presence, whichever part of the country I played, however far away from home.
And this is just a small way of saying a big thank you to all the teachers who have stood by their students, believing in them, sharing their world.
– Suma Ravi
The author is the Director- Southern Region at CRY- Child Rights and You. She has played badminton for Calicut University and for States – Kerala, Karnataka and Bihar.