SUDIPTA: So Mamata, let me start with you. What would you like to say about your entry into this society stated ‘Not so cool for girls’ field?
MAMATA: Well to be frank, I knew it from way beginning that I had sports and athletics running in my veins. Ever since I was a kid, some magical force drew me towards sports. Studies were never my cup of tea. So the stepping stone was me registering myself for the kickboxing classes earlier when I was in school. Sadly I had to drop the same due to some inevitable personal problems. But I always had that zeal and pertinacity inside me and was determined enough to start afresh. So yes…I am here!!!
ABHIPSA: Karate is a little ‘Out of the Box’ form to opt as a profession of sports. Sonali, what’s your take on this?
SONALI: I was really curious about the martial arts when I heard some of my friends joining the Shaolin Martial Arts Academy near Sum Hospital. So it would not be wrong to assert that my inquisitiveness and thirst to make an identity that led me here. Coming to the fact that people consider Karate a weird choice to opt for, it certainly isn’t as it is all their bigoted mind set and nothing else. Everything is odd if it never gets a chance to be nurtured.
SUDIPTA: Was there any kind of opposition or parental pressure?
SONALI: No, there is nothing as such but yes some financial problems do arise at times as we have to pay for the travelling and all stuff by ourselves.
MAMATA: Seriously I am not as propitious as Sonali in this case. Its unfortunate that parents clearly said a no as response when I expressed my desire to join the academy. So I went to Hyderabad for participating in national level by lying to my parents about it being a study tour. I myself feel dejected that what I am doing is wrong but I have high aspirations for this and I will do whatever it takes. I was bound to lie as money is a priority which I will be needing for food,travel and accommodation. Sponsorship is given only to technically sound players by companies.
MAMATA: The academy is named as the Shaolin Martial Arts Academy India which basically monitors in Karate, Wushu and Weapons training. It is open for both boys and girls and Himanshu Bhusan Das is the man behind the idea. It is evident from his teaching techniques that he possesses finest skills in this field. I learn Wushu and Karate both, having got a gold in Wushu in state level, gold in national level Karate- Kata(to show the postures) and a silver in national level Karate fight. The national level Wushu in which I have been selected will be held on 25th January in Ranchi.
SONALI: He is also very friendly. His utmost priority is giving individual attention to the weaknesses of the admitted students and make them learn the tricks to score points easily and effortlessly. Also we are given a slight idea about body flexibility and gymnasium. Well my current interest is Karate in which I bagged the silver and gold for Kata and fight respectively. In national level I got silver in both.
SUDIPTA: How did the college support you both?
MAMATA: There was literally ‘ZERO’ cooperation from college when we were selected for national level. Obviously we wanted to go officially to contest in national level (convenient for consideration of attendance,classes and labs) but such lengthy and tiresome procedure to get the paperwork signed made us extremely frustrated. We even approached some crucial members of the Student Union but in vain. All we got was unclear response and since there was not much time in hand, we left for Hyderabad without any financial aid.
SONALI: Self-defence, especially for women, is of utmost importance in the kind of world we live in today. In a country like India, where the cases of gender violence is on rise, self- defence has become a bare necessity more than ever. The women in India are vulnerable to rape, molestation, eve-teasing etc. So the women should be aware of the strategies to be adopted under different adverse circumstances. In this direction our college must take some initiatives.
MAMATA: We normally wake up at 5 in the morning and head towards the academy by 6. Practice goes upto 8:30 if college classes are there otherwise we can continue up to the time we want to. Himanshu sir is there to assist us for maximum 4 hours and then we do it by ourselves where our seniors at the academy help a lot.
SONALI: We are expected to eat healthy and bade goodbye to all the junks. Sadly we get oily breakfast often in hostel(laughs).
ABHIPSA: Who was your inspiration?
MAMATA: Don’t know. “Ragon me tha shayad”!!!!
SONALI: Mamata is one of my biggest inspirations!!! My elder sister supports me too whenever I lose hope.
SUDIPTA: So what are your future plans?
SONALI: I would like to continue with Karate. I also intend to start Wushu soon. My life underwent significant changes after all this. Earlier classmates did not use to talk much, but now they feel my presence (smiles).
MAMATA: I have faced many hurdles in the journey so far and I am well aware that there is much more to come. I want to open a school where girls would learn the Martial Arts free of cost and concentrate on academics too. I would like to request all the parents out there reading this article that please interact with your children, try to understand what they are good at and invest in same. Believe ,me it matters, that support from parents matters(being a little emotional). I do not want any girl to go through what I experienced. I want this wonderful art to be learnt by all. It enhances your personality surely, makes you confident too. So yes, its my dream to open such a school where every girl learns to be brave enough knock down anyone who abuses her.ABHIPSA: Wow!! That is such a phenomenal thought to have. We hope you both good luck for your future and once again congrats!!! SUDIPTA: Thank you for making all girls proud!! All the very best for your future.