Golden boy Achinta Sheuli's mother usually keeps his trophies and medals wrapped in a half-torn saree under the only bed in their two-room residence in Howrah district's Deulpur, around 20 km from Kolkata.
But Purnima Sheuli, mother of Achinta, arranged the trophies and medals on a small stool on Monday morning, the time when her youngest son returned home after bagging gold in the 73kg weightlifting event at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The proud mom has requested Achinta to purchase a cupboard for displaying the medals and trophies. “I knew that reporters and photographers would be coming to our house when Achinta came back. That’s why I kept the medals and trophies on a stool so that they could see Achinta’s achievements. I never dreamt that he would one day win gold for the country,” Purnima told PTI.
She recalled how tough it was for her to bring up her sons — Alok and Achinta — following the death of her husband, Jagat Sheuli, in 2013. “Today, I believe God has started showering blessings on us. The number of people who gathered in front of our house shows that times have changed,” she said.
“I couldn’t arrange a square meal for my sons every day. There were days when they fell asleep without eating. Now that Achinta has made us all proud, I don't know how to express myself and what to say,” she added.
Both Achinta and Alok, also a weightlifter, had to load and unload goods, besides doing zari work on saris at a local manufacturing unit. “I had no other option than sending my sons to work. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have been able to survive,” she said, describing how both Alok and Achinta continued weightlifting against all odds.
Recollecting the abject poverty and hardship during his childhood, Achinta, 20, gave credit for his achievement to his mother and coach Astam Das.
“It feels great returning home after doing a good job. All that I have achieved today is because of my mother and my coach. They have played important roles in my life. Whatever I am today is because of these two persons,” Achinta Sheuli told PTI from New Delhi.
The weightlifter left for the national capital to attend a meeting there in the early hours of Wednesday.
The young sportsperson who is elated to have seen so many people waiting outside his residence to welcome him back home on Monday night, however, believes that only some financial aid from the government could help the family overcome their hardship.
“Life has never been that easy for me and my family. We had to literally earn every single bread we ate after my father's death. Although we have started earning, it is not enough to help solve our financial condition…if only the government could kindly look into our problem and help us,” he said.
Astam Das, when contacted, said Achinta's grit and "never give up"attitude had helped him in winning the gold in the CWG. “He is like my son. He is different from all the others I have trained. I have never seen him give up easily — this helped him realise his goal despite all odds. I believe this win at the CWG will take him further in life.”