Visakhapatnam, Sept. 7: No individual matters more to Yuvraj Singh than his mother, Shabnam. Around 9.15pm, she spoke to The Telegraph at her hotel, despite having spent quite a bit of the day travelling to this port city.
The following are excerpts:
Q: As a mother, what did you go through when Dr Peter Harper confirmed Yuvraj had cancer and that chemotherapy couldn’t be avoided?
A: (Pauses) The last thing you want is your child to have cancer. I confess it was scary.
One began asking so many questions. Thankfully, it was a curable form of cancer. But while that was a relief, the situation had to be met head-on. We couldn’t just let it be.
Q: The second cycle of chemotherapy left Yuvraj absolutely weak, yet your presence gave him strength.
A: There was one drug, Bleomycin, which had to be injected six-seven times during the course of the treatment and the very thought of another shot would make Yuvi tremble. It took 10 minutes to inject and he’d react rather badly. The doctors said that they were giving a harsh treatment but it was for Yuvi’s benefit.
That he was getting better, not worse. That gave me strength and, in turn, my boy got strength.
The light at the end of the tunnel was there.
Q: Fact is that Yuvraj delayed proper investigations.
First, the 2011 World Cup came up and, then, the IPL. Didn’t he gamble with his health?
A: Look, Yuvi had been suffering from allergies and cold for quite some time and our first reaction was that ‘oh, it’s the same old problem’. But yes, he did neglect his health, but did so because he’s so passionate about cricket.
Q: What were your emotions on the last day of chemotherapy (at the Indiana University Melvin and Bren Simon Cancer Centre), March 18?
A: I was counting the hours, counting the minutes and seconds. When we came out, it was like we were out of jail! Those five days of the third and final cycle were the longest
the toughest on the mind.
Q: Yuvraj slept for an entire day on returning to the apartment in Indianapolis. What did you do?
A: Had to catch up on pending work, had to do the cleaning... had to start packing.
I’d stocked so much of groceries that I had to give them away to neighbours. It took me two days to pack and clear the apartment.
Q: YouWeCan has been set up with a purpose — to spread awareness about cancer. Yuvraj, clearly, is determined to do his bit.
A: It’s Yuvi’s pet project, he wants it to take off in a significant way.
He’s confident of devoting enough time and has been spurred on by (oncologist) Dr Nitesh Rohatgi’s belief that YouWeCan could save around 10,000 lives every year. Yuvi has a team with him and everybody wants to make it a success. I know he doesn’t want to be remembered just as a cricketer, but as one who successfully fought cancer.
Q: Is the Yuvraj of today any different?
A: Yuvi’s definitely more religious.
But I don’t see any other changes. He was a fighter, is a fighter and will remain a fighter. Some questioned his commitment to cricket, without knowing anything. Well, the real Yuvraj Singh is out. Even if he did something off the field for a minute, it got blown up
. That hurt him, because he’d never compromised with working hard. Hurt me too.
Q: The general feeling is that irrespective of what Yuvraj does on his comeback, he’s already a winner.
Q: But Yuvraj will still be under a lot of pressure.
What do you feel?
A: Yuvi is under pressure now.
He wasn’t some weeks ago, but the expectations are sky high and he’s feeling it.
When he sees things on the TV, he says ‘Oh my God, there’s too much pressure’. It’s natural, with people treating his comeback as the return of a champion. Having said all that, he’s very excited as well.
Q: Where do you see Yuvraj two years from now?
A: Established in the Test team.
The retirements of (Rahul) Dravid and VVS (Laxman) have opened two slots.
Yuvi’s very passionate about Test cricket and I hope he makes it big in the biggest format.
Q: How would you describe Yuvraj?
A: Warm, caring... not just towards his family but teammates and friends
He’s such a loving son. I couldn’t ask for more.
Q: Yuvraj worships you.
A: Actually, we’re more like friends. We’ve gone through tough times.
The only thing I have in this world is Yuvi.
Yuvi, I think, sees me as the only thing he has in this world.
Q: The last one... What will you tell Yuvraj tomorrow, before the T20 International?
A: (Smiles) Nothing much, because if I talk a lot, then he’ll say ‘tum khud ja kar khelo’. Yuvi knows what’s to be done.
I’ll be praying for him.