Every time Biswadeep Bhattacharya lost a game of table tennis, he got a thrashing from his father. But the final blow came on Monday morning, after the 14-year-old table tennis champ withdrew from a practice session against his father’s wishes.
After a few rounds of forehand and backhand rallies with nine-year-old sister Neha on the second floor of the family’s Regent Park home, Biswadeep felt uneasy and left the room, ignoring his father’s orders for a longer session at the table.
“But Baba followed him and threw something hard at him... I am not sure whether he was hit by it,” said Neha, recounting the morning’s face-off. Biswadeep’s mother Papia — aware of her husband Deepak Bhattacharya’s rage — came running out of the kitchen, only to see her son lying on the floor, writhing in pain and rubbing his chest.
“We requested Deepak to call a doctor, but he kept on saying that everything will be okay. Then, I called an auto and took Biswadeep to hospital,” sobbed an inconsolable Papia. She rushed her little champ to MR Bangur Hospital, where the Class IX student of Netajinagar Vidyamandir was declared dead.
Police later detained father Deepak on the basis of complaints from neighbours at Niranjan Palli.
Biswadeep was part of the medal-winning Bengal team in the Cadet Sub-junior National Table Tennis championship in Chennai in 2004. In 2005, he had won the Central Calcutta District Championship final.
“But his father was unhappy with him after he lost in the finals in a recent tournament,” said Dulu Saha, a neighbour, alleging that Deepak would beat up his family members in a fit of rage.
Bengal Table Tennis Association officials were aware that Biswadeep was always under parental pressure to perform. “Biswadeep was a good player, but his father used to get violent with his son’s failures. Afraid of his father’s fury, Biswadeep had once run away to Patna,” disclosed Rabi Chatterjee, general secretary of the sports body.
The teenager’s tragic death has turned the spotlight back on the bigger question of parental pressure on children.
“Parental expectations are often not realistic. In this case, it was worse, as the father was aggressive, which led to the sad end of a young boy,” summed up Mohormala Chatterjee, psychologist, sounding a warning to parents pushing their children to pursue their own dreams.