Jayanta Talukdar comes across as a quiet man. When you speak to him, he seems indifferent. At times, he remains so aloof and listless that one is forced to wonder whether he is at all interested in the sport he plays. Even if you ask him about his nature, he chooses to keep silent. He takes times to open up, but when he does, he does speak about his game and the sacrifices made to pursue the sport. But one thing that comes out through the interactions is his emotional nature.
Jayanta loves his family. It seems he is almost perpetually homesick. Even today, 13 years after he left Guwahati for the Tata Archery Academy in Jamshedpur as a 13-year-old, he hates it whenever he is away from home.
His parents know this. As a child he tried to run away from the academy hostel in Jamshedpur. If not for his father, Ranjan, Jayanta might have never been a champion archer.
As we enter the premises of Jayanta’s house, his father points out to the place where he and his elder brother Nikhilesh used to practice with bamboo bows and arrows.
“His brother used to play the sport in school,” says his father. “Jayanta too started liking archery and I asked him if he would pursue the sport and not play cricket or football later.”
Recollecting those early days, Talukdar senior says, “He was a natural and soon he was picked by Tata Archery Academy in 1999.”
Though Jayanta now says he was very happy to be selected by the academy spotters, his father shakes his head from behind to suggest otherwise. “The very thought of staying away from the family made him sad.
“It was very difficult to motivate him. Initially he went there but after six months he was back home. He refused to go back to the academy. Finally, I had to board the train to take him back.”
Not just that. Talukdar senior narrates another incident when Jayanta cried in the train.
“By that time he was a little older. Must be around 2003. That was the most touching moment in my life. I went to see him off and that day he didn’t cry.
“His mother (Satyawati) was crying as the train began to move. Suddenly the train stopped for some reason and I went running to check on him. I noticed, he was sobbing in the corridor between the toilets. He didn’t see me. But that was one moment I will never forget.
“When at home, Jayanta never ventures out. He loves kardai (star fruit) and coconut pancakes.”