The way it works for women of Ratu Chati chawk, some 15km from Ranchi, is they have to get married by 20, whether or not they complete their education. Deepika Kumari took up a bow to choose an alternate path.
“I want to get her married as soon as possible. But Deepika doesn’t want to think about it,” said Deepika’s father Shivnarayan Mahato while cleaning his tempo, parked behind a Chevrolet SUV which has been collecting dust for some days now.
“She took a loan to buy that for us but a tempo driver like me can’t ride a car like that,” said Shivnarayan, who has taken a break from driving his tempo to supervise the construction of their new home.
“Work has been slow as we have to wait till she sends some money,” said Shivnarayan, who along with wife Geeta, his father and 13-year-old son Deepak stays in an unplanned, two-room brick hovel that runs along an open sewer.
Dream come true
“Building a house was a dream. Only because of our daughter it has now become a reality,” said a beaming Shivnarayan who admitted having problems with sending away Deepika to train at a young age.
“Equipment was extremely expensive. Then again there is the social factor. People used to say a lot of things,” said Geeta, who works as a nurse in the local block medical unit. “But we couldn’t allow that to stop Deepika from dreaming big.”
Curiously though, Deepika was rejected at her first two trials. “She was so thin that she couldn’t pull the bow string to her ear. Trainers were not impressed but she requested them to keep her for three months within which she promised to improve,” said Geeta.
There was some disappointment though on Sunday when news travelled from Paris that Deepika had lost in the title round of the World Cup finals. But nothing they said matched the Olympics disappointment. “She sounded very low. But knowing our daughter, she won’t stop till she gets a medal in Rio,” said Geeta.