A personal letter to daughters
Master badminton player Prakash Padukone writes a letter to his daughters, film actor Deepika Padukone, and golfer Anisha, making a strong case for...
Master badminton player Prakash Padukone writes a letter to his daughters, film actor Deepika Padukone, and golfer Anisha, making a strong case for keeping their feet on the ground and eyes focused on their goals, and quietly going about their work with single-minded devotion. Dear Deepika, Anisha, As you stand on the threshold of life's journey, I want to share with you some lessons that life has taught me. Decades ago, as a little boy growing up in Bangalore, I started my tryst with badminton, a game that was completely unknown in our country at the time, except in some parts of West and North India. My father, your grandfather Ramesh Padukone, had become fascinated by the game when he lived in Mumbai and introduced it in Bangalore when he relocated there. He took a group of us, young boys, under his wings to teach us the basics, often looking up rule books so that he could impart to us the finer nuances of the game. Those days there were no stadiums and courts where sportspeople could train without being disturbed. Our badminton court was the marriage hall of the Canara Union bank, near our house in Malleswaram, and it was there that I learnt everything about the game. Every day, we would wait to see if there was a function in the hall, and if there was none, we would rush there, after school, to play to our hearts' content. Marriage season in Bangalore often lasted for five to six months and so there were not too many days we could play at a stretch. Sometimes, it would be just nine to ten days in a month, but we were grateful for even those days. Looking back, I realize that the most important thingabout my childhood and adolescent years was my refusal to complain about my lot in life. I was thankful for the few hours a week we had the opportunity to hit the shuttle back and forth. In fact, that has possibly been the foundation on which I based my career and my life�the refusal to whinge or whine about anything, even as a child of seven when I first took up the game. I could have complained about everything�the lack of proper sparring partners, the shortage of practice matches, the unavailability of coaches and fitness trainers, poor infrastructure for training, and so on. But I, in fact a generation of people in the seventies, chose to just accept the conditions that we were presented with and made the best out of them. --- By the time I was sixteen, I was the national badminton champion. Often the prize for the effort was a candle-stand, a photo-frame, or a wooden plaque. It was only when I won the All England Championship that the prize-money became significant�A�3,000�a huge amount in those days. But that did not distract me from the sheer joy of having been instrumental in putting India on the global map of this game. In a small way, I think, my winning that championship was the turning point for the game in India and it cleared the way for other champions to come in later. The success, the name and fame, the Arjuna Award and Padma Shri, were all by-products of my love for the game. Deepika, we know that you are in the film industry because of your love for it. Early on in life, even as a child of nine or ten, we knew that you were meant for modeling and to be under the arc-lights. You were a natural. Even so, at eighteen, when you told us that you wanted to shift to Mumbai to pursue a career in modelling, it was hard for us to come to terms with the decision. We felt you were too young and too inexperienced to be alone in a big city, in an industry we knew nothing about. In the end we decided to let you follow your heart, like my father had taught me all those years ago, as the only way to live fully. In the sixties, most middle-class families had their sons into engineering or medicine as that guaranteed a secure and stable future. Your uncle, Pradeep, and I were Junior National Champions together, but he pursued his interest in engineering and went off to the US for a career. I, on the other hand, had no intention of going down that path, and I was fortunate that my father gave me the freedom to follow my passion for a game which held very little promise of ever making money. His approval changed the course of my life. Had he forced me, I would have been a miserable, average engineer plodding through life. When the time came for you to make a decision about your future, we thought it would be cruel to not give our child the opportunity to pursue a dream that she lived and breathed for. If you succeeded, it would make us proud, but even if you didn't, you would not have any regrets that you did not try. In retrospect, it has turned out to be the best thing we did. ---- Sometimes parents underestimate their children's capabilities which brings me to my other belief: you can either like what you do or you can be passionate about what you do. If you only like what you do, you will become an average player, but if you love what you do, there is every chance that you will excel at it. For then, no hardship, no sacrifice will be too much to achieve your goal. Anisha, you want to be a professional golfer and I know you will let nothing come between you and that dream. At sixteen years of age, when I was representing the country in badminton, I travelled second class and often in unreserved coaches on trains, sitting, eating, and sleeping outside filthy toilets in the train for a couple of days simply so that I could reach the training camp and better my game. I see that passion in you. I don't know too many young people who work sixteen hours a day and I see that the fruits of that passion are already coming your way. Deepika, I have learned that you can't always win in life, that everything you want might not come your way, and events don't always turn out as you want them to. To win some, you have to lose some. You have to learn to take life's ups and downs in your stride. Looking back, the amount of effort that I put in my game never varied from the first day till my retirement, regardless of the money, the awards and recognition, winning or losing. Whatever I got in addition to playing was just added bonus..... (From Legacy: Letters from Eminent Parents to Their Daughters, by Sudha Menon, published by Random House India)
26 Jan 2020 7:37 AM GMT