Cricket was a distraction when he lost his dad; 15-year-old Dhaval Waghela now wants to play for India

“Although so many years have passed since the incident, even now there are times when I remember dad and cry at night.”

November 25, 2018 11:08:10 am

Dhaval Waghela, 15, plays an imaginary cover drive and asks younger brother Niraj, 13, if his stance resembles that of Virat Kohli. “Not one bit,” Niraj says, teasing his elder brother who idolises the India team captain.

For Dhaval, cricket has been a key distraction after he lost his father Thakur Waghela, an employee at Gokuldas Tejpal Hospital in south Mumbai. The circumstances of Waghela’s death will be remembered by millions — he gave Ajmal Kasab a glass of water to drink on the night of November 26, 2008 when the two gunmen barged into their chawl home located in the lane leading to Cama Hospital.

Dhaval says his father had wanted him, then already tall for his age, to become a ‘big officer’. “But he would be glad with what I am doing. I do not ignore academics and am preparing for my Class X exams, but cricket is where my heart lies,” says the student of King George School in Dadar. “I moved to the Dadar school because it has a better sports culture and I represent the cricket team. Even while looking for colleges, my priority will be a college known for its cricket team,” Dhaval says.

An opening batsman who bowls a bit and has a highest match score of 86, Dhaval has played in the Harris Shield inter-school tournament, a crucible for many cricketers who have later represented India. “Although so many years have passed since the incident, even now there are times when I remember dad and cry at night. The next day however, after I am at cricket practice, I feel good again. I have a goal to play for the Indian team and that keeps me motivated,” says the 15-year-old, who lives with his elder sister Roshni, 20, Niraj and mother Karuna at their Pratiksha Nagar residence in Sion.

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Karuna, who was given a job at the GT hospital after her husband’s death, is a bit concerned about Niraj. Having watched his father being shot dead as a four-year-old has left deep scars on his psyche, says the family. The boy was on medication till a year ago. “He is quite bindaas and talks to people like a grown up. I worry people will misconstrue his actions and land him in trouble. I tell him this is not your nature. But he cannot help it. He finds it difficult to focus on academics as well,” she adds.

Dhaval hopes to grow professionally in cricket. His younger brother Niraj’s interests lie in technology and gadgets.
Express Photo by Pradip Das

Academics may not interest him, but Niraj is a whiz at repairing things, especially electrical or electronic equipment. Karuna realised this when she once discarded a tube light and found it installed and switched on when she got back home from work. “Niraj, who likes repairing things, changed the choke and repaired it,” she says proudly. “He can also dismantle a toy completely and then fix it back. He is quite good with those things,” Dhaval adds.

Niraj says, “I like watching YouTube videos that teach you how to make new things. After watching the video, I make things at home. I really enjoy the process.”

Karuna, who is busy working in different shifts at the hospital, worries that she does not spend enough time with Niraj. Having herself been prescribed anti-depressants for the past two years, she says she’s glad she and Niraj are both off medication now. “Niraj may not be good academically, but he is a talented boy when it comes to mechanics. Dhaval is doing well in sports and my eldest daughter is studying in college. I do feel optimistic about the future.”

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