The month of July would certainly hold a special significance in ace tennis star Sania Mirza’s diary. Not just because she elated every Indian by creating history in SW19, but because amidst the buoyant feelings her memory would certainly reckon this month a year back, when right wing fanatics under the saffron flag questioned her nationality.
It was on July 22 last year, soon after her appointment as the ‘Brand Ambassador’ of Telangana, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came down to bigotry politics. BJP leader K Laxman not only raised questions over Sania’s appointment as Telangana’s brand ambassador but also went to the extent of spewing venom terming her as ‘daughter-in-law of Pakistan.’ Sania known for being surrounded by the vitality of her personality sheerly condemned the attern act of the BJP leader, but more than that the incident touched her raw nerve. She was irritated, cheesed off for everytime being a target of the patriarchal mindset or for her Pakistani spouse. Her pain was evident everytime she spoke on the issue and finally it was her interview to a national channel where she poured in all her emotions on the bizarre controversy.
It was an interview of Sania Mirza three days after the BJP leader’s outrageous comments. On one side of the screen was one of most audacious journalist Barkha Dutt who began by asking her reaction on the most nonsensical yet heightened controversy sparked by the BJP leader. “It was extremely hurtful for me. It’s really unfair that I have to keep or rather we have to keep justifying our Indianess, keep asserting our Indianess time and again,” said a fatigued, pale looking Sania with watery eyes. As the cameraman took cut away shots of her eyes, they were speaking much more as she tried to hide a thousand emotions behind them. “After winning medals for the country after playing for the country for so many years such incidents do hurt, I don’t understand whether it has something to do with my gender or whatever. This hurts me the most,” added Sania while her voice turned shaky and her words started cracking. While she went on to explain about her marriage galvanizing the controversy, she finally succumbed to the emotions. “Many a time I am asked this question about his (Shoiab Mallik) nationality, but to be honest which country he is from that didn’t even cross my mind when we first met, so I don’t understand why it has to cross anyone else’s mind.” Speaking the last few words she choked and Barkha did the right thing giving her enough space to get over her emotions. As tears drops ticked down Sania’s cheeks, silence prevailed for close to a minute. There was certainly no answer to BJP’s cheap, divisive and bigotry politics. Assuredly along with Sania many Indians watching the interview had lumps in their throats as well. For a sport star who has held the tricolor high bountiful times before, she certainly understands carrying the responsibility of patriotism better.
Barkha finally broke the thunderous silence, by apologizing to Sania. “I can only say sorry Sania, on behalf of all the Indians who are very proud of you,” said Barkha who looked equally emotional and so true was she. After a silly controversy inducing tears on an international icon one is perhaps left speechless to console her. But, most importantly console for what and why do she even has to owe an explanation just because a politician who barely understands sportsman’s spirit tried to make her, his political forage!
More than anything else what intrigued me to write this piece was a comment by one of my social media follower who hammered Indian hypocrites stating, ‘just because Sania has won she is India’s daughter and need not prove her nationalism, but losing Wimbledon would have made her daughter-in-law of Pakistan.’ After Sania’s victory among the congratulatory messages from various bigwigs included that of our PM Narendra Modi, who tweeted: Well played @mhingis & @MirzaSania. You played wonderful tennis & registered a fantastic win at @Wimbledon. We are proud & very happy.
But, I believe it would have more appropriate if the PM along with lauding the star would have apologized, for once having disgraced Sania by his own partyman. Tough more apt would have been the PM seeking an apology back then when his party leader defamed a national icon of her stature but PM Modi as always back then or now has preferred to remain either mum, or managed to trivialized or dodged the acts of his party people that often have hurt national sentiments. India just came over bearing a voiceless PM for two terms, but after espying his rhetoric essence Modi was voted to power with an unprecedented victory margin. Now, Modi who once ridiculed our erstwhile PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, himself turning dumb on key issues is certainly detrimental to the nation!
While Sania, as her twitter profile reads, ‘dreamer, believer, doer. Even against all odds,’ certainly walks the talk. Every time be it religious fanatics or the right wing saffron brigade have tried to heckle her, she has succeeded in coming back with more vigor. After her grand victory she expressed herself in mere seven words, twitting: Allhamdulillah ..first and foremost what a day it's been... Wowwww.
Certain feelings are inexpressible or may I put it as, feelings are better expressed when left unexpressed! Sania apparently knows that well, she is well appraised how to make a louder noise with her achievements and victory. She knows that every resentful statement of fanatics would be wiped off and would perish in the thunderous clapping of her fans worldwide who lauds every victory of hers.
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