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India’s biggest superstar ever, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (MSD), is 10 years younger than my older son, and almost the same age as one of my daughters.
The thought that I could easily be his mother is seriously scary. Why scary? Because, I am certain, I wouldn’t know how to handle it. Look at the guy — just look at him. Is he for real? He’s so wise, so cool, so mature and so damn successful. And he’s all of 26.
What did his mother eat when she was carrying this boy in her womb? What were her thoughts? Her emotions? Was she on a special diet (soaked almonds? pure ghee? lassi?) or did she sing the right songs to her unborn child? Read out cricket scores? Make him listen to cricket commentary? Recite from the scriptures? What? I am sure there are countless mothers all over India wondering about the same thing.
Especially mothers of toddlers who are aspiring test cricketers (at this point, what’s the bet that most little boys who watched the historic World Cup final, and Dhoni’s spectacular sixer that clinched it, lisp that they want to grow up and be like him). We now know what it takes to be a champion (guts, talent and the right temperament). But what does it take to be the mother who produces such a champion?
I am sure the lady who gave birth to this extraordinary man must be extraordinary herself. Not in a flamboyant way. Not in the public space her son now occupies, but determinedly, quietly, steadily and surely. It is not often that mothers of male super achievers are given their due.
Even Sachin Tendulkar looks skywards and thank his late father when he hits yet another milestone. We know Sachin has deep regard for his mother but not much is known about the lady who gave birth to this living legend.
Yuvraj Singh’s mother is more upfront while claiming her rightful place under the sun. Shabnam Singh doesn’t hesitate to speak her mind when she thinks her precious son has not been appreciated enough. She even goes so far as to write a strong letter to an international fashion magazine that had dared to comment on Yuvraj’s birth last year (they loved her feisty style, and printed it).
After this victory, she has been both visible and audible talking about her ladla beta. But since this is Dhoni’s moment as the captain of the victorious team, it’s more relevant to track his antecedents. Besides, Dhoni’s story is so much more dramatic. In fact, it reads like a TV soap.
This young man from Ranchi has scripted one of the most inspiring, real-life stories ever and, like it happens in fiction, we want to know more about the lady who brought him into the world. From the little that is available in the public domain, Devaki married Paan Singh and produced three children, two boys and a girl.
She prefers to stay in the shadows and let her son’s success do all the talking. She was admirably discreet even during her celebrity son’s modest wedding last year. She has done a bloody good job of raising her kids. Nobody can taunt her by singing, “Maa da ladla bigad gaya”.
If I were in her shoes, I would have insisted on getting some exclusive “Mommy-time” with the guy, before the world grabs and monopolises him.
I would even put in a pre-condition — no managers, lackeys, fans, hangers on, endorsement chaps, deal makers, cricket officials, bodyguards, stylists, advisers, chamchas, dieticians, bankers, physical trainers, not even his lovely bride Sakshi. Just me and my boy, bonding over comfort food and conversation that has nothing to do with cricket.
Over chai, daal chaaval and his favourite guilty snack, I would make him laugh, even cry and forget he is MSD — the most successful cricket captain in the world right now. I would tell him over and over again that he’s a champion, my champion. A permanent hero in a mother’s eyes, regardless of wins and losses.
I would restrict my comments to light-hearted banter and remind him of his carefree childhood, running around Ranchi in half-pants and bunking school.
The one thing I wouldn’t do is to treat him like a star — a megastar. I would not allow myself to be overawed or overwhelmed by his success. Nor make any references to those dramatic moments that brought so much joy to so many people. Nope.
I would treat him like a “normal” son, shower him with love (the same love he has known since birth, nothing “extra” because he is a super-celebrity now), wipe the tears of joy from both our eyes with the corner of my sari and carry on like nothing has happened and, certainly, like nothing has changed and nothing will, regardless of circumstances.
That’s what moms are there for. To provide a reality check, along with unconditional love, no matter what and no matter whom. Dhoni has more than a billion admirers all over the world. But only one mother. He has the world at his feet, but I am certain his biggest trophy of all time still remains his mom.
Well done, Mummyji! India is proud of you.
Coutesy: Shoba De in Deccan Cronicle