Sushil Kumar celebrates win against Kazakistan Akzhurek Tanatarov in their Men's 66kg Freestyle Semifinal match at the Olympic Games in London. PTI/Manvender Vashist
Released in 1986, 'Ankush' is but a speck in public memory, but 'itni shakti hamein dena data, mann ka vishwas kamzor ho naa', still resonate through the walls of the Solanki household. So profound was the impact of the haunting lyrics that Vijay Solanki, an elder, has had it as his caller tune ever since the facility came into vogue.
From another concrete structure in the dusty by-lanes of Baprola Village, Sushil Kumar's abode now stands as a defining landmark. Expectedly, the trappings of prosperity too have become marked.
If the Beijing bronze saw admirers being ushered to wooden cots in the sitting area, the buildup to the silver at London was followed from ornate sofa sets, which stood out for their intricate woodwork. It does not end there. The sobriety of lime wash has been replaced by garish patterns on the walls and flickering electric bulbs have made way for a chandelier. The metamorphosis is for all to see, and father, Diwan Singh, links it to the laws of nature. “Change is a way of life, isn't it,” he asks.
Sushil's life too has been subjected to change, in fact many times over, but sustaining the wrestler and his loved ones through joy and grief has been the belief that the illustrious descendant would fulfill an elder's last wish.
A former wrestler, Sushil's grandfather had hoped to see his grandson win an Olympic medal. But illness snatched him away before it could happen.
Since childhood, it was 'dada' Sushil had looked up to and his demise had a profound impact. He left the shores grieving silently, but the loss also steeled his resolve. “He may not have been present in person, but I was determined to win it for him,” Sushil had said after obtaining bronze in 2008.
On Sunday, he fulfilled the wish twice over. Growing up with the intent of emulating his 'dada', on a scale he could have scarcely imagined of when he accompanied the elderly gentleman to the local akhara, has held him in good stead. Psychologist Tarun Verma terms the tendency as a tool of deliverance for aspirants from remote areas. Surrounded by want and mediocrity, quite often youngsters tend to look around for inspiration, which they use to fuel their dreams.”
The story of Devendro Singh buttresses the point. Growing up in strife-torn Manipur, the 20-year-old light flyweight boxer from Imphal was taught to dream by elder sister, Sushila Devi, a boxer of national repute. He had laid the foundation of his career, but when Yogeshwar Dutt won India its first wrestling medal, his father was not around. Up above, he would have watched with a smile as Village Bainswal (in Sonepat) erupted in celebration.