My covid duty for the day had just been over and I had just logged into Facebook to receive the good news that Abhijeet Gotani had earned his first international order, that of two sisters from the United Kingdom. A long cherished dream was just about to get materialized into reality as I engaged in a fascinating conversation with the artist-cricketer.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- Congratulations Abhijit, I intend on interviewing you on your journey both as a cricketer and as an artist. We commence through the interview as you agree.
Abhijeet Gotani- Thank you so much Dada, It would be a much needed push for me, considering the long period of work.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- Thank you for agreeing, let’s initiate the interaction with cricket. We know that you had a brilliant season last year, so is there any specific area, you worked harder on?
Abhijeet Gotani- I primarily focused on bowling and emphasised on fielding which was also a product of Mosarob da’s encouragement and motivation that drove me to work hard. I would also mention Prakash Bhagat, who helped me with my bowling in hours of necessity.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- How do you approach batting?
Abhijeet Gotani- In my initial days, I started my career as an opening batsman but since there were a lot of options vacant for that post, I preferred to focus more on bowling inorder to get more opportunities. I had joined the cricket club at the age of 9 but had to leave for my board exams after class VIII. It was only during my B.Com days that I retrieved back into the field of cricket.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- Can you tell us more about your education and academics?
Abhijeet Gotani- I went to Maharishi Vidyamandir and secured 82% and 77% in classes 10th and 12th, respectively proceeding forth in academics, I completed my B.Com in Lalit-Jain Commerce College and had to face a lot of hurdles during my school days.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- Please brief me about your childhood and the struggles you found yourself battling with during your school days.
Abhijeet Gotani- I started my schooling from a speech therapy school in 1998-99, while in Jaipur after which I was enrolled into MVM, Silchar. Starting from UKG till class IV my results were considerably good but from class V it started to deteriorate and by the time I reached class VIII, it came down to the extent of failing.My mom including my school principal and teachers, were profoundly worried about me and were trying their best to make me through the 10th finals. Some teachers also suggested to get me enrolled into Rajiv Gandhi Open School, thinking it would be inconvenient for me to comprehend in group tuitions while another aspect of that still remains their inability to explain me. However, after posing several requests, two of my teachers agreed on providing me classes with individual attention while my mom sat beside me for help if required otherwise. From class IX, I started tuition and my results started improving. 3 months prior to the board exams my sleep schedule got distorted and I couldn’t sleep properly. I totally cut off on TV and just considered studying and whenever I felt dizzy I would hit a hanging ball in my room to rebuild my concentration again. On 12 January 2010 I was honored for commendable performance, scholastic and non scholastic during my school annual function while on 26 may 2010 the HSLC results were declared and my teachers were surprised by the news that I had scored 82% thereby making them call in order to congratulate me.
A deaf and dumb child has good friends in their life as people have a real human heart but no one likes to join them outside the house. I knew that I have to walk alone. I knew I have to go for movies alone. Initially, I felt bad during Durga Puja but now I am happy to enjoy the sight of the puja pandal alone.I learnt to embrace my solitude and happily go for shopping and to restaurants alone.
During days of my childhood, Sujit Nandi sir helped me the most in cricket. Sujay sir, Niranjan sir and Dhiraj sir also remain as much worthy mentions as they too helped me a lot.
I had whatsoever no interest in painting but my art teacher Bhaskar Bijoy Gupta sir inclusive of my family forced me to continue with drawing. I would also add that the entire credit of my achievements, goes to my mom who struggled a lot for me and stood alongside me throughout my battle.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- Which famous celebrities portrait have you made?
Abhijeet Gotani- Dhoni , Kohli, Sara Ali Khan, Esha Gupta(who shared it on her Instagram which further got published in a Delhi based newspaper), Anweshi Jain and four Hollywood actresses.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- How do you communicate with your captain and teammates?
Abhijeet Gotani – A little by speaking, a little by writing and some sign languages.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- What do you think is a quality of a great cricketer? And how do you work on your mental strength?
Abhijeet Gotani – According to me the very basic qualities of a good cricketer should be the will to work hard and an innate sense of punctuality while their first priority ought to always go for cricket.To build my mental strength I keep my eyes sharp and keep my brain focused towards my goal. In my childhood days, a yoga teacher used come to my place who helped me master the art of meditation. I am also a pure vegetarian and have been strictly sticking to my diet chart for the past two years which I received from Medanta Medicity Hospital,Gurgaon.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- What is the atmosphere in your team?
Abhijeet Gotani- They all love me and we enjoy a lot. The seniors are also very cooperative and help me with whenever I need.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- What are the different variations for the leg spinners?
Abhijeet Gotani- Legspin ,Top spin , Googly are a few of the variations. As of me, I have four variation to confuse the batsman. Shane Warne is my favorite spinner and I often watch his videos to consume and learn from him. I watch very keenly though I can’t hear. Gaur da also sent me many videos of the legspinner so that I can learn better.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- How are you spending this lockdown?
Abhijeet Gotani – I start my morning by going for a morning walk and do some exercise. After that I work on the orders, I receive for portrait, sketch colour pencil and oil painting followed by the usual diurnal routine.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- What is your dream?
Abhijeet Gotani- I want to set an example for the Divyangs and the specially abled and want to work hard enough to receive the Ranji Trophy.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- What are your plans for the future?
Abhijeet Gotani- I am searching for government jobs while I desire to continue with my art sidewise.
DR. HIMABRATA DAS- Can you brief us on a few of your top moments on the cricket field?
Abhijeet Gotani – 1. When I took revenge on a player(also a friend of mine) who hit three sixes in a single over. In response to that in the next couple of tests and odi matches I made him three out.
- When I received, the man of the match in 2020.
- When my club (Tribeni) won the 2day match in 2018.
- When our Itkhola club secured victory against India club while India club was victorious agaist every other team in the tournament.
Abhijeet then sends me, 5 of his top artworks before saying goodbye.
Dr Ganesh Nandi who is an eminent faculty member in the Department of Visual Arts,Assam University has this to say about Abhijeet:
Art is a creative expression of human mind. Every person has some feelings and emotions a few expressed while the others remain unexpressed. But an artist expresses these feelings in an artistic manner which he aquires through laborious practice and dedication. Abhijeet Gotani is undoubtedly a rare talent who has tremendous drawing skill which he aquired through hard practice. His works reflect his sensible nature and portrays his passion and devotion towards the subject. His every delicate brush and pencil strokes establishes his love and dedication. Adding to the previously mentioned, he has extraordinary observation skills which is very important for an artist. I think he is such a skillful artist who can portray anything from the realm world. He bears a special aesthetic sense of colour as well. Abhijeet has all the required aptitudes, if he does some original composition blending with his skill and sensible mind, he will not only catch the attention of the art lovers but can also construct a huge gift for the contemporary art world. Speaking to Abhijeet’s mother was a very emotional experience. She has been part of a remarkable journey and an paragon for all the parents. Two lines she spoke will stay with me forever, “Rather than thinking that having a special child is a curse, parents should think that God only chooses special parents for special children. Abhijeet wants to prove to the world that a Divyangs can do just as well as anyone else. He wishes to meet PM Modiji someday and be an idol for all Divyangs”.
(Special thanks to Dr Masud Siddique,Himadri Sekhar Das and of course my little brother Hrijoy for making this possible)
This interview was conducted by Dr. Himabrata Das, Registrar of Department of Psychiatry, Tezpur Medical College and Hospital.