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By For cricketer Gautam Gambhir, sister Ekta is his biggest fan ? on and off the field FAMILY TIES As told to Hoihnu Hauzel Photograph by Rupinder Sharma
  • Published 13.05.06
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I some ways, cricketer Gautam Gambhir, 24, and sister Ekta, 22, have surprisingly little in common. They never lived in the same house, they didn’t go to the same school and didn’t have any mutual friends. Also, they’ve gone in completely different directions after school, he building up his career as a sportsman and she about to head off to London for higher studies.

No, this isn’t the story of a divided home. It was simply that Gautam was adopted by his grandparents soon after he was born and has always lived with them. How did that happen? Eighteen days after Gautam was born, his mother was discharged from the hospital and on the way home, stopped by at his grandparents’ home to show off her newborn. His grandparents immediately took such a liking to him that they insisted he stay on. “Since my house was the first stop for Gautam after coming out of the hospital, it became somewhat like my right to keep him,” says Gautam’s grandfather, Satpal Gulati. Amazingly, Gautam has lived with his grandparents ever since.

But living in separate homes hasn’t made Gautam and Ekta any less close, and the two meet all the time. They are the best of friends and can’t ever remember having playroom fights as children. Ekta shops for her elder brother and occasionally even advises him on what he should wear. “He loves casual clothes but my mother and I try to get him to try formalwear once in a while,” says Ekta with a grin. Gautam in turn, is always buying his sister gifts picked up from trips abroad.

 

GAUTAM:

Even though we were not in the same house, we never felt separated. As kids, we spent lots of time together as my parents’ home and my grandparents’ place were close by. Either Ekta used to come over or I was taken there. And as we grew up, we became closer. Our relationship grew and we’ve become more like close friends who confide in each other. We talk on the phone every day discussing everything including our personal problems.

Yes, we went to different schools and never had common friends, but that has never really created any distance between us. I went to Modern School on Delhi’s Barakhamba Road, which is a co-ed school while she went to Presentation Convent. Later, Ekta attended Hans Raj College and I went on to Hindu, and we never really hung out together. But my sister is a sensible and understanding person and I turn to her in my moments of disappointment.

For instance, if I am disappointed with my performance or feel a bit down, she’s the one I usually turn to. My parents tend to get tense and hyper if it’s anything to do with cricket, so I find it easier to discuss things with Ekta. She’s sensible and helps me take things easy. I usually call her and my parents when I am playing overseas, and there’s good news. For us, I would say, keeping in touch and making sure we are constantly communicating with each other has helped us cement our bond. And the good thing about Ekta is, while she may love watching cricket, she rarely discusses the game with me. This is quite a relief because sometimes, it tends to get a bit too much.

Another thing about Ekta is that she’s not at all demanding. Even when she ties a rakhi, she does not expect me to shower her with gifts. But yes, I make sure to get her presents whenever I am travelling.

EKTA:

My brother, Gautam has always been tremendously supportive and that too, in more ways than one. Recently, when I finished my masters in advertising, I wanted to go abroad for an MBA. I applied to various universities in London, but my father was very worried and had reservations about my going abroad to study. It was my brother who convinced my dad that I should be free to study outside India. He said if I want to go and study abroad, there’s no two ways about it ? I must pursue it. It was only because of his intervention, that I will now be able to follow my dream.

In many ways like that, Bhaiyya has always been there for me ? like a rock. He makes me feel protected and confident that I have a big brother to bank on. He is one person I can tell anything to and not be afraid. If I have made a mistake, or am upset about something or have had a fight with my parents, my brother is usually the first to know. He is protective, yet at the same time, not over-possessive. He lets me be and does not believe in interfering in what I do.

Ours is a simple yet solid bond. He knows my friends and does not object to my going out even if it’s with friends of the opposite sex. Also, he trusts my choice of clothes for him. Sometimes the three of us ? Bhaiyya, our mother and I ? go out shopping and have a great time together. Thankfully, my brother isn’t too choosy about clothes. He’s happy with whatever I choose for him.

Of course, I take great pride in being his sister. But in college, very few people knew that I was Gautam’s sister. Some of them could not believe that I’d never discuss my brother with them.

One of the nicest things about my brother is his caring attitude. I remember when he won a trip to London while he was in school, he got me a pair of shoes, of all the things. Recently, when he came back from Pakistan, he bought me a bottle of perfume. And, another time he got me a T-shirt from Sri Lanka. But strangely, he has never introduced me to the other members of his team even though I’ve gone to see matches a couple of times. Perhaps, he’s not very comfortable with the idea of my being introduced to his teammates. Sure, my brother is reserved and quiet in his own way. But I’m not complaining about that!