MAHESH PURIYA RATHOD
Thirty-year-old Mahesh’s eyes sparkle when he speaks of his childhood:
“I was a carefree boy from Ambedkar Nagar, Colaba not interested in studies. I just played all day with my friends. Many of my them used to collect ‘Bhangaar’ and earn money by selling it. And when I needed money I would sell it too.
I needed support & guidance to shape my life. So many of youth from the community got together and met Vijay bhaiya. We requested that he teach us Rugby. Seeing the enthusiasm, interest and how we children were getting shaped, Vijay & Anwar bhaiya formed Mumbai Magician Football Rugby Club. Vijay bhaiya said, ‘Padhai hai to khelna milega’, giving importance to education also. Realizing this I started paying attention to my studies. I took part in school sports and even won the Best Player award in Langdi game. In SSC, for Teacher’s Day I remember dressing up as a P.E. Teacher.
My mother who is now sixty years old, still works for daily wages in Sasoon Dock cleaning fish. My father did the same work as well. He later shifted to the village to look after the affairs there, He died of cancer in 2014. Mohan, my elder brother, works on a contract basis in Sasoon Dock. My second brother Harish does odd jobs. I am the youngest in the family. Mohan bhaiya would take me along with him on the dock to work against my wishes when I was around seven years old. I remember that mother would get angry and say, ‘Hamare jaise nahi banana hai, Mahesh ko’. She supported & encouraged me to study and is my Mother India.
After completing my schooling from Colaba Municipal School, I joined Siddharth College (Anand Bhavan) for graduation. It was a shock that I failed in Final Year B. Com. Not understanding what to do, I took up a job in L-Cafe in Lower Parel as Assistant Manager. But to my dismay I found that my work was that of a waiter, twelve hours a day. My mother saw me suffer and said, ‘Chhod wo kaam, aur jo tujhe karna hai wo kar’.
I re-appeared for my Final Year B. Com and began playing Rugby for Magician again. Gaurang Chauhan, one of our colleague players guided me for the B. P. Ed admission in BPCA College, Wadala. Today I am working happily as a P.E. Teacher in the Aseema Charitable Trust run Kherwadi Mumbai Public School at Bandra (E). It was a dream come true. I am also working part time as a Physical Fitness Trainer.
In my first game of Rugby, I was an Extra Player on the Maharashtra Team that was held in UP. I realized that I needed to work on my physical fitness when I was not selected for U19 Team in Bombay Gymkhana. In my second game played in Odissa, I led the team as Captain. I was extremely proud, confident and happy that my mentors believed in me. It was a proud moment when we won Loser Plate on the Calcutta Tour.
Magician plays a major role in shaping my life. From taking care of my health, to cleanliness awareness, to teaching me to be a Leader, to building am ‘I can do it’ attitude. I also received career guidance as I realized my dream of becoming a P.E. Teacher, to learning skills of working with children from all sectors and backgrounds. I am proud to say that the Leadership programs that I did with them have created a trust in my joint family. My decisions are accepted wholeheartedly even though I am the youngest of three siblings.
Laughing mischievously he says, ‘Agar mein Magicain mein nahi hota toh shayad mein kuch bhi nahi hota. Sach kahu toh jholar hota’.” So a dream has been achieved by becoming a P.E. Teacher, but Mahesh immediately added, “Actually a lot more achieved”.
I wished to have a life partner from the same professional field and knew that education itself was an aspect not yet seen strongly in our culture. As Shahrukh Khan says, ‘Jab aap kuch dil se chaahe toh saari kaayanat use aapse milane mein jud jaati hai’. Today I am happily married to a partner who is working in the Aseema Charitable Trust run Pali Chimbai Municipal School in Bandra (W).
It was always a happy moment visiting my father in village. Sports & education are a lethal combination. ‘Poore gaon mein mujhe respect milta hai ki mein Teacher hoon.’”
Mahesh says, “Rugby ne mujhe ek acchi zindagi di. Yahaan har mentor ne baat bhi samjhai ki mocha ka baccha mocha ya neta ka baccha neta hi bane jaruri nahi. Jaruri hai toh lagan, mehnat aur kuch kar dikhane ki chahat’.
Magician is still an active part of my life. I was very angry, upset, and felt helpless when a new Teacher Joinee got promoted within a year of joining our School. Anwar bhaiya had patiently listened to all that I was going through and simply asked, ‘Where are you lacking? What extra did the new Joinee have as an advantage over you?’ Realizing that B.P. Ed is not enough, I am now studying M.P. Ed 1st year. My dream is now BIGGER. I want to become a role model for “Common Man”. Not only in sports but also in every field of life application. My mentors Vijay, Anwar, Nitin bhaiya have always trusted, respected, and believed that I can coach children and they have always supported me. Sachin Tamahare, my Teacher colleague has also been a good support system.
Looking back at his journey with Magician, Mahesh said, “In every failure, they taught us to see where we lacked and find room for improvement and to always remain focused.”