As a little girl, my fairytales always had a prince charming or a knight in a shining armour. Thank you, Geeta and Babita, for changing my fairytale and making me believe in being my own hero. This open letter to you is not just from me, this is from every Indian girl who was made to believe that this is a man’s world.
As I watched Dangal unfold before my eyes, I was left speechless and there was this one scene that made my heart stop beating, for just a second. It was the one in which Geeta, as a child, is sitting in her classroom and under the table, she is shown working the hand-grip with one hand. None of us can possibly understand the intensity of your desire, the amount of dedication you had and the endless and unshakable faith that it takes, to do what you have done. You both have fought innumerable battles inside the akhara and outside it. You have been pushed to your limits physically, mentally and emotionally. You have been denied a fight simply because you were women. You have been taunted and jeered at for having short hair, for wearing shorts and most of all, for trying to be men. You were not trying to be men, you were just showing the world what a woman is made of.For a while in your life, you thought your father was the villain of your story and, trust me, there are so many girls like me, who have felt so too. But when you saw through all of his toughness and ruthlessness, you were brave enough to embrace the dream he had nurtured for all those years. Not everybody can do that.Image:Geeta Phogat on TwitterAs you fought your heart and body out in akhara after akhara, you did not flinch… Not once. Not even when you lost a fight, not even when you were in unimaginable pain and not even when everyone but your father had almost given up on you. You were fearless in the face of the biggest challenges, and nothing...nothing could ever change that.
Thank you, Geeta and Babita, for becoming an undying inspiration for me and for the generations to come. Thank you for giving me a story I know I will tell my daughter. Thank you for showing me what bravery and determination look like. Thank you for breaking every unbreakable stereotype and for slamming shut every mouth that said ‘Yo choriyo ke bass ki baat naa hai’. And if you do come across this letter, I, on behalf of every Indian girl, would like to thank your father for being the man and the sportsperson that he is. For standing up and fighting with society for his daughters and making them the champions the entire world can look up to... For truly believing in ‘Maari choriyan choron se kamm hain ke?’I also owe you an apology. I am sorry that I had to Google ‘Geeta and Babita Phogat’ when the trailer of Dangal came out. I am sorry that a Bollywood movie is to credit for me knowing your name and knowing your story. I should have been better, we all should have been better. A salute to you Phogat sisters, for being the women who changed the so-called ‘man’s world’.