Since the very first day that I got a chance to see
Jimmy White in action in Kolkata at the National Championship, I would dream of
being able to rub shoulders with him or the likes of him – and that too, in
their own backyard. I had just begun my career as a junior and I was already
planning a fairy tale journey into the kingdom of the stars. The thought was a
little too ambitious to even discuss it with my mentor, my very own father. So I
tucked away the dream into a safe corner of my heart, so that every time I took
a breath I was reminded of my aspiration. I never allowed that wish of mine to
die and fed it constantly with motivational thoughts and drew inspiration from
champions of other sports.
Life with its funny twists and turns offered me the
opportunity and I grabbed it as if that that was the last life line on sale. The
path was demanding and demoralization was always within sniffing distance, but I
pegged along, and when I actually did walk on the same ground as my hero,
Stephen Hendry, it was like floating on seventh heaven. When we were both being
announced for the UK Open (although facing different opponents), I felt that
this was what I longed for – to belong to the privileged group.
This was the final stop in my journey and I had
made it. I was now being counted amongst the top few players of the World’s
best. The thrill of being able to write your name just below Hendry, or Ronnie
O’Sullivan in the practice Arena, as you prepare for the event, was only
bettered by the actual practice sessions that we had together. This was no
ordinary practice – we were getting ready for the tournament. And the icing on
the cake – to face them as opponents in these celebrated tournaments that one
only saw on television.
I dared to dream and achieved it – more was
possible if circumstances were different. But that’s another story. The million
dollar question however is – when will there be another dreamer like Yasin
Merchant, who will want to risk everything that he has and take the plunge, only
to emerge not only as a threat to the domination of the Englishmen, but in the
process develop as a champion in his own right and prove to the Dings of the
world that India is right behind you and catching up faster than you think.
For I believe that in the likes of
Sourav Kothari and another favourite player of mine,
Lucky Vatnani, we have the potential to challenge the best. Why are we then
holding back? We have nothing to lose except our fears. The young cueists of
today have a lot going for them, besides their immense talent. So why not build
on our strengths and march forward.
All we need now is for the flame
of desire to burn a hole within our hearts. Only then will we experience the
pain of missing out on destiny.
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India's ace snooker player