LALU ISHWAR RATHOD
Working as a P.E. Teacher in Enkay Public School, Panvel for the last three years, Lalu has come a long ways. Twenty-nine years of struggle and a lot more yet to be achieved, Lalu is the eldest of the three sons in his family. Both his father and mother worked in Sasoon Dock. Father did the business of buying and selling fresh fish while mother worked for daily wages cleaning fish.
“Due to mother’s constant illness, I left school at the age of six from 2nd standard to take care of my younger brothers. Cooking for the entire family, bathing my siblings, filling water, baby-sitting, and cleaning the house became my routine for the next two years.
I was eight when Doorstep came to our community. Doorstep taught us basic education and helped me get readmitted to Colaba Municipal School for 1st standard. I started attending school managing the entire household routine. Many a times I would be late for school. My teacher had nicknamed me ‘Itni si daal wala.’ Sometimes I would feel sad but my routine continued until I completed 4th standard.
Rehmuddin Shaikh, Shankar Rathod, Shankar Chauhan, Naresh Chauhan and I all studied together until SSC through Doorstep. We were a group of about thirty children named ‘Sanjeevani’ who would do street plays and work as volunteers promoting education through Doorstep.
With my passion for Rugby, I continued played with the Mumbai Magician Football Rugby Club. I have played both Contact Rugby & Touch Rugby on the National Level and participated in several Tournaments. I helped win a Bronze Medal for our Team.
Laughing mischievously Lalu adds, “I suffered many injuries while playing Rugby. Knee, shoulder, a torn eyebrow… Once during a practice match, I was tackled so hard by my own team that I was knocked unconscious for six hours. Yes, my family would get worried with every new injury that I came home with but they never forced me to stop playing.
Although my mom Sakibai was illiterate, she would make us sit everyday for two hours to study. We had to read to her in loud voice. She succumbed to breast cancer in 2012. Shankar my younger brother has a job, while the youngest Gopichand is a Football player and is associated with Magician as a Rugby player.”
Speaking of his career, Lalu said, “I got a job offer from IRFU as Rugby Development Officer where I worked for a year. Then I joined Elite Football as a Project Officer. I was very happy that within three months I was promoted to Assistant Coach. Working with different organizations and simultaneously being associated with Magician has kept me busy. It’s helped me to become more goal oriented and focused. Even in times of unemployment I was never depressed.
I am a very lucky man. I was jobless when my marriage was getting finalized. Manisha was working as a Pre-Primary Teacher in Ryan International School, Vashi. All she said was, ‘I can always create my future.’ I’ve been happily married to my beautiful, understanding wife for three years and have been blessed with an adorable seven-month-old son. Manisha has also joined Enkay Public School, Panvel and is now an English Teacher. ‘Future holds Magic,’ is what we both believe. She is in her final year of her M.A. English. After that, I will be enrolling for B.P. Ed and pursue further opportunities.
I was nicknamed Key, a surprise package who could turn a losing game into a victory. Anwar Shaikh bhaiya and I were a team on the field. Most times we were mistaken for twins. If I weren’t a Rugby player I would have been at Sasoon Dock selling fish. ‘Family business age badhata.’
Rugby has created me. I am working as a P.E. Teacher in school, a completely impossible achievement only on the basis of 12th standard. I do carry a grudge that I couldn’t play in the Second Division Tournament due to ligament injury. But I am so thankful to the mentors of Magician Rugby who always encouraged me to make wise choices. Vijay & Anwar bhaiya taught us that relationships come with a give and take. They are a symbiotic process.
I am proud to say that as much I received from Magician, I have been one of their support pillars in return.”