Now holed up in one of the ‘red zones’ in his hometown Baroda, Pathan spoke to Arani Basu about the important lessons this virus has taught our society and how we can emerge a more responsible race.
Here is his first-person account…
Let me first say that in times like these, we can’t let depression and sadness seep into our daily lives. This is why I have started putting out light videos on social media so that people can take their minds off all the depressing thoughts at this moment. I thought to myself: ‘agar gaaliyan bhi pade uske liye toh bhi chalega. (Even if I am trolled or criticized for this, it’s ok).’
I don’t like to brag about the things my family is doing to help others in this crisis. It is part of our duty. We just mentioned on social media about the effort we have made in distributing masks because we thought it was the need of the hour then. The use of masks had to be popularized and we thought people could also think of it as a fashion statement.
The area where I stay has been declared as a hotspot. Luckily most of the cases have returned negative. But precaution is still the need of the hour.
People say I have been taking social stands and that I have been diplomatic all through when our country was going through unrest a few months ago. I want to make it clear that my only idea is to promote peace, love and unity. I live in an area of a city where I have seen people fight unnecessarily in the past and then also evolved to celebrate festivals together. And now, by the time this pandemic subsides or a cure comes along, we all would have learnt a lot of lessons about our lives.
The biggest lesson this virus has taught us is that paisa hi sab kucch nahin hota (money is not everything). We were too busy eternally running after money to make our lives better. Now people are willing to let go of it to live on. We could do with bare minimum things.
My heart goes out to the people who are daily wagers. There are a lot of people who talk about having a rough journey to success. I have lived it in the truest sense. Ek sabzi ko mil baat kar do din tak khana, ek phate hue joote ko khud sil kar do saal chalana (To share one dish for two days, to stitch own shoes and use them for two years) – struggle is inherent in me.
So, this is why I want to make an important point. I have travelled the world because I had the honour of playing for my country. I could win a World Cup for my country but I also realized it made me a more responsible citizen. When I travelled the world, I could see the difference. People are generally compassionate and there is little hatred, if not none at all. That’s what I want to profess in my country. Whatever happened in the past, especially the issues we had in the last few months, counts for nothing.
I believe the virus will also teach us the importance of sharing. It disturbed me when people were hoarding stuff. They could do it because they had enough means to buy it. But that left the poor people stranded. Now, there are people coming out to share things with the needy. People should know they will have enough. Hoarding resources is very unfair.
Our country has great potential – in all aspects. But the youth of this country is the greatest strength. It’s about realizing your responsibility. It doesn’t take much to help the society or those who are in desperate need for help. Just stay connected to the government agencies, nearest hospital and police station. Whatever initiatives Yusuf and I have taken, all has been done through the government. You see someone in need, alert the nearest police station. You don’t have to create a scene or have a gathering to do it.
The other day, we came to know that there were few families in need of ration. The police came to us directly and we arranged it. I don’t even know the 30 families I helped. You just have to have a clean heart.
Once this is over, we will have to build on the lessons taught by this virus. Health and hygiene will be top of our priorities. People will have to be flexible. People now know that their work can be done from home also. Save resources, spend time at home and be efficient at the same time. I see my nephew (Yusuf’s son) taking online classes and learning at home. He is enjoying it. That could also be a way forward.
We need to have an open heart, stop chasing wealth and practice the art of sharing. The nation’s youth has to spread positive vibes and we can bounce back from this and take our country to the top.