Don't Miss: From Selling Panipuri On Streets To Playing Cricket For Our Nation
It is a common belief that if your aspirations don’t match your background, it’s not supposed to be your dream. A prevailing attitude that 'we the middle-class shall not dream to be a superstar’ has killed more passionate hearts than failure ever could. But it is a real chain of events, that to break through is a challenge. But for this young fellow, sportsmanship was greater than any of the obstacles. Here is the story of Yashasvi Jaiswal, a panipuri seller who was driven by his ambition of sports and beating all odds, became a U-19 player for the Indian Cricket team.
Yashwaswi was just an 11-year-old kid when he decided to take on a journey that he wished for so long. He moved to Mumbai from Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh to pursue his passion at a tender age. The younger of the two sons, his father managed a little shop that earned them not so much to feed the entire family. Understanding the lack of resources, his father didn’t object to his decision to live with his uncle in Mumbai. Working as a manager at the Muslim United Club, his uncle Santosh owned a house in Worli but it was not big enough to occupy Yashaswi. He requested the club to provide the boy a tent for him to stay for the time being. “This was after I was asked to leave the dairy at Kalbadevi. After playing cricket the entire day, I would get tired and go to sleep. One day, they threw out my luggage saying I do nothing, don’t help them and only sleep,” says Jaiswal.
Yashaswi’s father would occasionally send him money for his living, but it would never be enough for him to sustain. He started working as a pani-puri seller during Ram Leela in Azad Maidan and would also help sell fruits to make some money on the side. It was a period of struggle that he still reflects on.
“During Ram Leela, I earned well. I prayed that my teammates would not come there for pani-puri. Sometimes they did and I would feel bad serving them,” he says. He tried his best to keep some money coming in. He would score and play games with older boys to earn Rs 200-300 to survive a week. I always used to see boys my age bringing food or their parents had big lunches with them. As for me, it was — khana khud banao, khud khao. (make your own food, eat alone). No breakfast. Catch hold of anyone around and request them to buy breakfast,” he recalls.
But the toughest of all was the emotional trauma Yashwasi suffered during his years of struggle in Mumbai. The thought of his family would often make him homesick. Good food was just a thought too good for him. He would see families of other players bringing them big baskets of delicious meals but for him, it would be long hours of struggle convincing people to buy him breakfast. “Every night used to be a candlelight dinner. After all, there was no electricity.”
The turning point in both his life and career was being discovered by a local coach Jwala Singh. “He must have been around 12 years and I saw him facing an ‘A’ division bowler with ease. I could relate to him. When I also came to Mumbai from UP, I didn’t have a house to stay in. No godfather, no guide. He is gifted. He has 49 centuries in the last five years,” says Jwala.
Today, he is a middle-order batsman with an outstanding reputation and is ready to join the India Under-19 team for the Sri Lanka tour.
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