So on Thursday my foundation, The Foundation, unveiled plans for its first fund-raiser , ‘Equation — An Auction for Equality’ with great fanfare in a press conference in Bombay. Six out of 25 world-class items were revealed.
Amongst them, Vishy Anand’s world championship gold medal (Kraminik), Sachin’s 4th highest ODI-score bat, Abhinav’s World Championship-winning rifle, Leander’s Wimbledon-winning racket from this year and finally, Mahesh’s Australian Open mixed doubles-winning racket from 2009.
Somebody at the press conference asked me why I, as a former Rugby international for India, hadn’t donated something. I laughed and said what was the point, it wouldn’t even raise five rupees.
The interviewer vehemently disagreed. I laughed it off again, but a seed had been planted. I decided to test the waters by talking to the most direct, balanced person in the world , my sister, over lunch.‘Uhm, Didi…the press were kind of asking why I hadn’t donated something to the auction.’ After a few hours her laughter died down. ‘No…I mean, seriously…After all, I’ve played rugby for India for ten years…’ ‘Have you seen your face?!!’ Sisters. Why do they have to get so personal? ‘What does my face have to do with this? I mean Rafael Nadal’s hardly good-looking…’ ‘Rahul, have you lost it?? Rafa’s sexy, SEXY! You are not! Forget sexy, you are not even appealing! Forget appealing, you’re not even bearable! Forget bearable…’ ‘Ok, ok, I get it, alright?’ Clearly speaking to her was a mistake. ‘Nonononono, you don’t get it! Read my lips. No-one-cares-about-rugby. No-one-cares-about-your-memorabilia. No-one-cares-about-you!!!’
This last line stung. ‘What do you mean no one cares about me! Of course they do!’ ‘Oh, yeah?? Who??’ I thought and thought. My eyes began to fill with tears. ‘Oh, please! Don’t start this self-pity crap! Face it, Rahul. You’re nobody! A zero! A speck of dust!!’ But we international sportspersons are made of sterner stuff. Under pressure, we dig deep. ‘I think you are being petty and vindictive. I think there will be takers for one of my international rugby jerseys. I am also a movie star, you know.’
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