KOLKATA: On Saturday some of India's sportspersons felicitated their respective mothers on the eve of International Mother's Day for the exemplary role these women played in their success.
Organized by AMRI Hospitals the ceremony was attended by members of the Indian national football squad, Hira Mondal and Md Rafique, along with their mothers, Basanti Mondal and Rubiya Bibi respectively The ceremony saw the players share anecdotes on how their mothers sacrificed so that they could both shine as players both in East Bengal, their home club and in the national football team.
Both Hira and Rafique also extolled the support they received from Jamuna Das, a Kolkata Maidan fixture, popularly known as "lozenge maashi". Des, who was also felicitated during the occasion for being a mother-like figure to football players and soccer fans of Kolkata, shared an emotional narrative of her long association with the Maiden.
"l started my life as an employee at an office at aurrabazaar but once I got a taste of the Maiden, I quit my job and started selling lozenges outside East Bengal club," she said.
Das spoke on how many of her friends and relatives discouraged her from visiting the Maiden, claiming that it was "no place for a woman". "l stuck to my belief and continued to visit the football grounds and over the years, I have developed a great rapport with several generations of football players," she said. She recalled how when Rafique got to know about her bad knee, he gifted her the best quality knee caps.
"Every time I went out to play, despite the loud noise at the ground, I could always hear lozenge maashi cheering for me over the tremendous din. She may not be my own mother but she is no less than a mother to all football players at the Maiden," Rafique said, as Hira echoed the same emotion.
Mitali Ghosh, a mother of Olympian and national rifle shooting champion, Mehuli Ghosh, was also felicitated at Saturday's event. Mehuli, adjudged the 'Female Young Athlete of the Year' in 2020, and the star of several international championships, including the Commonwealth Games and the South Asian Cames, could not attend the event due to training for the upcoming Asian Games. The event also saw social activist Papiya Kar being felicitated, who has singlehandedly run a community kitchen for years that currently feeds 100 people every day "Lozenge maashi" and Kar felicitated each other.
"It all started when I met an old lady at Ranaghat railway station begging for food. Even though I gave her money to eat, the next day I heard she had died of starvation. Her death felt like a personal loss and I went into depression. But I recovered from it and decided to feed people who have nobody to look after. I have been begging and borrowing money to feed these people and I feel no shame in it," said Ker, who has come to be known as "Maa Annapurna" for millions. Currently. she also runs a makeshift school for street children next to the Esplanade tram depot.
Rupak Baarua, Group CEO, AMRI Hospitals, said. "For all of us, our mother is a friend, philosopher, guide, and counselor to her children. This day is just an occasion to celebrate and honor mothers for their hard work, along with all the guidance love, and support we receive from them throughout our lives.