‘The game brought me closer to Sandeep’https://indianexpress.com/article/sports/hockey/the-game-brought-me-closer-to-sandeep/

‘The game brought me closer to Sandeep’

Sandeep's visits are never complete without a trip to Ambala.

Harjinder Kaur

Wife of Sandeep Singh,hockey player (Scored five goals in the final game of the London Olympics qualifier)

Like most kids growing up in Shahbad Markanda in Haryana’s Kurukshetra district,Harjinder and Sandeep spent most of their evenings on the hockey field. The two promising juniors from the village’s famous Baldev Singh Academy soon started spending a lot of time together. Having migrated from the same village in Pakistan decades ago,the two families whole-heartedly approved the association. A long courtship ended in a well-attended wedding.

But after they married,Harjinder,on Sandeep’s request,made a tough switch. The play-maker was to become a home-maker and subsequently,a mother. With Sandeep rarely at home,Harjinder does everything,from odd jobs to taking tough decisions. Though the life she leads now is vastly different from her previous avatar,Harjinder doesn’t consider the time spent on the hockey field a waste. “The game brought me closer to Sandeep,” she says coyly,tidying up her nephew Shubhdeep and keeping a eye on son Sehajdeep who is fast asleep.

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Sandeep’s visits are never complete without a trip to Ambala. “I look forward to riding pillion on his Enfield motorbike. We have a fixed routine: dosa at Sagar Ratna followed by jal jeera soda at Jain’s. It’s fun,” she says. At times,Sandeep goads his wife to fish out her hockey stick. “My brother-in-law Monty and his wife Meenakshi are also hockey players. So sometimes,the four of us go to this small clearing near our house and knock the ball around,” she says.

In 2006,a a freak incident threatened to shatter Harjinder’s family life. Sandeep got hit by a stray bullet while travelling on a train. “I was by his side all the time. Till he fully recovered and was back on the field,we were worried for him and his career,” she says.

Harjinder,a former hockey international,has watched her husband in action earlier. “I went to watch the Punjab Gold Cup final against Holland in 2009 but India lost. So he asked me not to come to matches anymore,” she says.

Harjinder says Sandeep is obsessed about the Olympics,even getting the five rings tattooed on his wrists. The facade of the family’s house in Shahbad Markanda too has the five rings plastered on its white walls.