Home is where the heart is but I have never stayed there for long. I was born in a remote village called Dekhiajuli in Assam and nobody outside knew the name of it. People, who knew about the village, used to mock me when they heard I hailed from that part of the state. I grew up amid chaos in a village which lacked development in so many ways.
It was tough for me to grow up without a father. Ever since I started remembering things, all I knew was my mother would leave the house at six in the morning and come back only by eight in the evening. She even used to sell vegetables in the market to maintain the family. There were days when I didn’t get to talk to her for days as I went to sleep early. Despite that, she spent a certain portion of whatever she earned on my wushu training and later on boxing. Sometimes, she would be left with no money. Only after I was selected for the SAI regional sub-centre in Guwahati for boxing that things became comparatively better. She still used to send me some pocket money from her small savings. My mother had to do all the struggles. She raised me up and let me train. I used to cry at times with my mom but she always asked me to be tough. I wanted to grow up with my family. But I was always staying far. I am proud of my mother, she has managed to raise up a good boxer. I can’t forget what she has done for me.
I don’t remember my father as he passed away when I was probably a few months old. My mother single-handedly raised me and two of my siblings and sent me to school. It was on my way to school one day, I saw locals practicing wushu in the ground. It immediately caught my attention. I started bunking my school and watch other seniors playing wushu. I got caught one day and they only welcomed me to be a spectator of their sport. Eventually, I started being a part of it. I used to lie to my mother and sneak into the ground where they played wushu and participated in competitions. One day, someone came and told my mother to allow me to go and play. My mom was surprised. She didn’t have the slightest clue what I was up to. My mom told me only if I win the match, I’ll be allowed to play further, or else she won’t allow me. I agreed with her. I won the tournament and brought a gold medal home.
I started playing wushu and pursued it as a professional under coach John Smith Narzary. In 2009, during the State Wushu Championship held at Udalguri, I was spotted by the observers of Sports Authority of India (SAI) and was called up for a boxing trial. I knew boxing was a bit popular by that time and heard about the success stories of Mary didi (Mary Kom), Shiva bhaiya (Shiva Thapa), and Vijender bhaiya (Vijender Singh). Someone told me we could give our trials in boxing if we wanted. I was first rejected because I was small, but I persisted and showed my wushu skills which impressed the selectors and I got into boxing. It was in SAI centre, Guwahati, I developed my interest in boxing and thought I would make a name for myself in this sport one day.
I am still a fan-girl of Mary Kom. I have often done sparring with her but never been able to tell her how much respect I have for her. I feel happy girl whenever I see her or she wins anything. One day, she came to the hostel wearing a white dress and met us, I got awestruck, I can’t believe we train now together. I must say, anyone can do anything if they try, my dreams have come true. We shouldn’t give up on our dreams.
I don’t know why, good news always precedes bad news. In October 2019, I probably had the biggest moment of my career winning the bronze medal at the World Boxing Championships. I was jubilant, happy and was proud of myself for the achievement. However, the episodes that followed were scary. I suffered a shoulder injury right after the World Championships.
It was something, which I had never experienced before. The excruciating pain was unbearable and I couldn’t move my hand. So I had to undergo an operation in December. I still remember I had gone to the hospital, spoke with my doctor. Everything was going fine till then. But when I was taken to the operation theatre, I was scared to the core. I felt like immediately running away from the scene. But then it struck me that I am a good boxer and if I don’t undergo this surgery, I won’t be able to fulfill my dreams ever.. I won’t be able to box. So ultimately, the operation took place. For a few days, I couldn’t even move my hands. Now that I am okay, I can’t even imagine how those days passed for me. I wish no other boxer had to face it. I left myself at the mercy of time. Time healed the pain and I feel as good as earlier. I feel so confident when I flex my hands to punch.
The lockdown didn’t go well for many. Of course, there was a disappointment over the Olympics that were postponed. But the whole of 2020 was a blessing in disguise for me. I spent the majority of my time at home while recovering from the surgery. It was also a part of my rehabilitation process, which I was undergoing in the camp. I am regaining my confidence back and can feel more control over my hands. I got plenty of time in my rehabilitation.
I got to spend a good time with my family though. Since my childhood, I haven’t been able to spend much time with my family, my mother because of boxing. In between, I was having light training and was also following the surgery protocols my doctor had suggested. I had to leave home at an early age. Last year, I got to understand how it feels to stay with family. It felt great. And I miss them more now as I have now moved back to my camp.
I have a target set in my mind to win more medals at World Championships if it happens this year. I don’t know how prepared right now I am for the Olympics, but I have time and will get back in the race for the next Olympics in a better way. Mary didi, at 37, is still trying to win another Olympic medal. How can I not be inspired by her? I can only say, this is just the start of my journey and I have miles to go.