Our government since independence has in place what are called reservations for socioeconomically backward and very backward classes of people. The very backward are given a special name. They are called scheduled classes. Despite the privileges given, most of these remain backward is another story. To corner these privileges of reservation several socially and economically advanced communities are vying to prove that they are indeed backward. I don’t think of any country where in this kind of negative affirmative action is being tried!
15 years ago the golf course I go to play was being built and we had a number of labourers belonging to this scheduled caste. We did not have a practice range then and would use a secluded spot to practice. The children of these labourers would do duty as ball pickers at a time and age when they should have been in school. As they earned some money and were occupied, the parents who worked on the course too were happy. These little boys in the age group of 10 to 12 years were a lively bunch and I was one of those with whom they were friendly with. Soon after my practice session, few of them would hitch a ride in my van till their hutments or some times up to my home which was couple of kms away. When they came home they usually returned after having some snack or the other, courtesy my wife.
Two of this bunch were Madiah and Muniyappa
Living on the golf course and being with golfers, many of these boys took to golf despite lot of difficulties. Madiah and Muniappa also took to golf and by the time they were 20 they started winning tournaments locally. Out station travel was a luxury they couldn’t afford and some of us sponsored them in the first couple of years to the extent we could. They lived frugally and in the next couple of years their performances all over the country made people sit up and take notice. My club started defraying their travel and stay expenditure and now their name is a fixture in the Indian circuit.
Though blood relations [cousins] they were contrasting characters. Madiah was outgoing and had an attitude bordering on being reckless, Muniappa is self-effacing and quiet. On the course while playing both had no fear and had nerves of steel which our gentleman pros lack. I remember when Madiah won a motorcycle for a hole in one in a tournament at Pune, the ecstasy and the sheer pleasure in his voice when he phoned to tell me the good news.
They were going great guns when tragedy struck Madiah. He died 3 months ago in a motorcycle accident off Hosur while on his way to his village. People who saw the mangled remains felt he was reckless when he drove. I felt he used his motorcycle the same way as he used his one wood. Sheer reckless abandon. He died as he lived. He was only 27.
I met Muniappa soon after and he was disconsolate and couldn’t find words to express his grief.
He is doing well and has a standing of 8th rank in the Indian circuit and he told me that he would like to play Asian circuit if he could find a sponsor.
He has no glamour of a Sania Mirza or M.S.Dhoni. But for persons like me, when I see him play and the adverse life conditions he has overcome, he is better than any sports personality I have known.
Now you know about him, and would want to sponsor him or know any one who can afford to do so, please get in touch with me.
From the beginnings humble,
Up they came to shine
Write and read they knew not
But hit the ball they did
High and long
Touch the ball soft and slow
Smile and glow they did
It was all but brief for one of them.