Khushbir Kaur’s family still remembers the days when a cowshed was their home and the country’s top racewalker, who won a silver at the 2014 Asian Games, used to sleep on a creaky charpoy. Due to abject poverty, the family would regularly skip meals once or twice a day. From a cowshed, they moved to […]
Khushbir Kaur’s family still remembers the days when a cowshed was their home and the country’s top racewalker, who won a silver at the 2014 Asian Games, used to sleep on a creaky charpoy.
Due to abject poverty, the family would regularly skip meals once or twice a day. From a cowshed, they moved to a crumbling house with a leaky log roof. When it rained, they had to accommodate their cows inside the house.
Those hardships are fresh in the minds of 25-year-old Khushbir, now a DSP with Punjab Police, and her mother Jasbir Kaur, residents of Rasulpur Kalan village in Amristar. “It has been quite a tough journey,” Khushbir said.
We lived stashed with cows in a room’
Khushbir lost her father, Balkar Singh, when she was six. It was her iron-willed mother, who raised four daughters and a son by sewing clothes and selling milk in nearby villages.
“During the rainy season, my daughters, son, the cows and I all lived in a single room, stashed together,” Khushbir’s mother Jasbir Kaur says, tears rolling down her eyes.
” Hun kisay nu vee pind vicho pucho ki DSP Khushbir day ghar jana hai tae saray tuhanu das daen gay (Now ask anyone in the village that you have to go to DSP Khushbir’s house, all of them will tell you where to go),” she adds proudly.
Jasbir was the family’s sole breadwinner after her husband’s death. Khushbir, however, has taken over the mantle of being the leader of the family after she started winning medals on the national and international stage. Her mother isn’t complaining.
“It was only after Khushbir started winning medals and awards that we could afford a good meal. And after she won silver in the 20km race walk event at the 2014 Asian Games, we got a cemented roof over our heads,” says Jasbir.
Khushbir’s two sisters – Harjit Kaur and Karamjit Kaur – are also into sports. The third – Dharamjit Kaur – is a sports enthusiast. Her brother Bikramjit Singh wants to join the Indian Army.
Recalling their days of hardship, Jasbir says, “My husband was an employee with the state electricity department. But after his death, my in-laws’ family left me to survive with five young children – all on my own. But I didn’t lose heart, I dedicated my life to raise my children and encouraged my daughters to study as well as be involved in sports.
“We had a couple of cows. I used to sell milk and then stitch clothes, but the income was not enough. The teachers at the school where Khushbir and her sisters studied would often help them – with studies as well as school fees.”
Khushbir’s mother still has a couple of cows but the decaying, crumbling house has now turned into a modern pucca house. Signs of prosperity are visible. “My daughters are my pride. My message to anyone who indulges in female infanticide is: Remember, the girls saved the nation’s pride in the last Olympics,” she says.
Talking about difficult times, Bikramjit says, “I couldn’t invite my friends to our home because it was just a single room; and then we had cow dungs stored in that. It was awkward.”
Originally Published In The Times Of India