Dear Me: Difficult roads will lead you to beautiful destinations - Jwala Gutta

Updated on Aug 11, 2017 04:29 PM IST

Jwala Gutta tells her 12-year self in a letter to not be disheartened by rejection, but to use it as fuel to light the fire within her and achieve all her dreams.

Jwala Gutta has brought India plenty of laurels in badminton and is even an Arjuna Awardee(Illustration: Mohit Suneja)
Jwala Gutta has brought India plenty of laurels in badminton and is even an Arjuna Awardee(Illustration: Mohit Suneja)
ByJwala Gutta

Dear 11-year-old Jwala,

You are angry, you’re hurt. You didn’t expect this from a veteran player who is respected in Hyderabad’s badminton fraternity.

You expected it to be a great learning experience after your father approached the shuttler to spar with you. But what will turn out will be nasty. You had never thought he would laugh on your face on first seeing how you hold the racquet. Worse, he would state point blank that ‘you’re not made for badminton’.

That will hit you very badly even as you try figuring what made him say that. You will be disturbed that the incident ended your practice for the day. After all, such a comment from a ‘veteran’ will not be easy to digest.

You will return home sad and depressed. But you will not vent your frustration. You will not tell your father what happened. You will shut yourself in your room because you want to figure out what made him say THAT.

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As you analyse, you will recall that when you first held the badminton racquet you were just three. The coaches had turned you away because you were too young. They instead advised your parents to put you in swimming and gymnastics which would prepare you physically.

Sport was always going to be your calling. The day you were born, your father apparently made it clear that sport won’t be a hobby. So, your training and everything related to it was designed and planned with a professional touch.

These thoughts lift you. You tell yourself the rude comments are just someone’s opinion.

Opinion that will actually fire you up. You will want to prove him wrong. You will vow to keep this incident to yourself forever. For, it will act as an added motivation.

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And it will work. Within six months, you will be on the podium with the state junior championship trophy in your hands. A proud moment for you and your family and you will remember father being the happiest.

But this will be the beginning of your journey. The battles will be tougher, your coach SM Arif will warn.

Although you were prepared for it, you never expected that you would cut a lonely figure at the Lal Bahadur Stadium. Your peers will refuse to practice with you because they now think you are a threat. The whole experience of going training will not be very enjoyable. But you will dig deep, stay calm and focused. No matter how painful the experiences, you won’t shed a tear either.

Do you know that you never cried as a child and it had made your parents worried? They would have to pinch you and hit you to get the tears out. It was a joyous moment when you finally wept. Your parents even recorded it.

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All this was preparing you to take on the world. You always told yourself: difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.

Your progress to the Indian women’s team will be a breeze. From winning the national title in 1996, no one would have imagined that in the next three years, you would make the India team. You would be 15 then.

You will also be primed to achieve some historic feats. Such as being the first for India to win the doubles gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games. You will also be part of the first Indian doubles pair to win a medal at the World Championship in London.

As you soar, remember you will also have to absorb your share of criticism. It comes with the territory called success. You will be labelled a cribber for speaking out. Your will demand a specialist doubles coach and question the system of awarding the Padma Shri.

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But then, you have faced criticism since you were 11. So, it doesn’t affect you anymore. All that worked for you was the belief your parents had in you. And the fact that they taught you to stand for your rights. Both will take you far.

Loads of love,

Jwala Gutta

(As told to Harit Joshi)

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