I do not really remember the first time I met Sidhanta Patnaik, but for the longest time both he and Karunya Keshav were two journalists who were covering women’s cricket when not many others were interested in the game.
I enjoyed reading his work. His articles were straightforward— not beating around the bush or trying to hide shortcomings. He was critical of our play, but we knew it was mean to be taken constructively. After all, Sidhanta too wanted the best for women’s cricket… He wanted to see growth and improvement, just as much as the players.
Although I no longer read any articles when we are playing, in the early stage of my international career, soon after a game, I would return to the hotel and search for pieces written about matches. Invariably, Sidhanta’s analysis/ match reports were the first to appear on my screen. They were very honest and his use of words always impressed me.
Over the years, Sidhanta and I built a relationship that I came to treasure. I would always receive a text from him when I did well… And it was these little things that meant a great deal to me, always.
I remember speaking to him in Mumbai in January last year. He was doing research for his book on women’s cricket, and came to BKC with Karunya to meet with some one the players. We spent quite a while chatting about Goa cricket, and he was so positive throughout our conversation. He gave me the impression that he had a great plan in place to improve women’s cricket and was just waiting for someone to help him implement it.
Later that year, I saw him in Alur, when he came to attend the finals of the Women’s T20 Challenger Trophy. He looked frail and tired and I was surprised he had come, but it was lovely to see him back where he belonged— at a cricket ground.
I had tears in my eyes when I read the blog post he wrote on his experience that day, and it served as a huge eye opener to me. At a time when I was struggling with my cricket and in a negative frame of mind, constantly brooding and beating myself about about trivial things, here was someone who was battling so hard to stay alive. It gave me perspective— opened my eyes to the bigger picture. That day I learnt that there is more to life than cricket, and I must count my blessings and appreciate all that I have…
Sidhanta was a real fighter. He made me believe in miracles— and I often told him that when I texted him. He was a wonderful journalist, but what counts most for me, is that he was a wonderful person.
A few days before I met him on May 27, he had texted asking about my well being. He sent me six messages, and said it had taken him 20 mins to type them up. Honestly, I was overwhelmed that he took such a great effort to do that.
When I met him, he was in good spirits, and clearly missed his job. He was busy with his laptop, checking his mails, and probably itching to write a story! 'Fight on Champ'- was what I wrote on an autographed Jersey I presented him with as I sincerely prayed for his good health.
I am glad that I got to spend time with him… Sidhanta was one of the finest people I had met. Not the stereotypical journalist hunting for a story. He was genuinely interested in us, as people, and I feel privileged to have interacted and formed a connection with him.
My father often told me that genuinely good people are hard to come by, and when you do find one, it is important to hold on to them… I was doing that with Sidhanta….
I shall never forget how much he cared and worked for women’s cricket, but most of all, I shall remember him for the incredible person he was, with a heart so genuine. Sidhanta taught me to fight the odds, he made me believe in miracles, and above all, he reminded me of the power each one of us possesses— the power to inspire and positively influence one another… And that is more than I could ever ask for…