His life thrown haywire by a rape allegation, leading Indian table tennis player Soumyajit Ghosh has married his accuser four months after his career nose-dived owing to the crisis.
Everything that could go wrong has gone wrong for the 25-year-old in the year he attained a career-high 58th in the International Table Tennis Federation rankings.
In March, he was accused for rape by an 18-year-old, that led to the two-time Olympian and India’s youngest ever national champion hitting “rock bottom”.
Four months on, he has not even felt the racket in his hand, is heavier by more than 10 kgs and is a married man.
“They say a sportsperson in India has to go through a lot to achieve something. The grind prepares you for the worst but what happened with me four months ago hit me hard and hit me out of nowhere. I did not know how to deal with it,” Ghosh told PTI.
“Everyone thought about the girl. That she was young. I was young too. If she was a minor, I was 22 when we started dating. I am still young. Having said that, there is no point looking back. I rather look ahead. Hope my court case is over soon and I get back to training,” said the skilful player, who will be “dearly missed” at the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia.
Ghosh was playing in Germany in March when he heard about the FIR filed against him by the teenager in Barasat, West Bengal. Fearing arrest on arrival in India, he chose to stay back in Europe and stayed in “three-four different countries” before returning home in May.
“It was only during that time, I found out who were actually my well-wishers. I was devastated. I was at the peak of my career, playing for a good club in Germany and then something like this happens.
“I would not name them yet but I survived that phase because of just two people and my parents of course,” he said.
In fact his teammates — the veteran Sharath Kamal, G Sathiyan, Harmeet Desai — also stood by him. If it was not for the rape allegations, Ghosh would have gone with the team to the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where the contingent came up with a best-ever performance.
“TTFI, the players were all there for me. All was going wrong but their support kept me going. After CWG, the team went to World Championship straight and lost a close match to Croatia. Sharath bhai called me and told me ‘we would have won today if you were around’. It made me feel that I was still needed.”
In the big year for Indian sport, he will end up missing the Asian Games as well.
“The target has to be a third Olympics. But right now, it is all about getting done with the legal issues. I have gained a lot of weight also. The comeback will be tough but I have to find a way to overcome this,” said Ghosh, who qualified for the London and Rio Olympics.
The Indian team is stronger than ever but Ghosh remains an integral part.
“Like Sharath, he is a big match player. He has the experience to pull off close games. We hope to have him back soon,” said foreign coach Massimo Costantini.
Ghosh’s legal troubles could be over soon, going by what his wife, Tulika Dutta, said at the reception in Kolkata on Monday. “I have no idea about the legal formalities but I will speak to the lawyer and ensure that my husband’s future is not jeopardised. It’s a fresh beginning for both of us and we will do our best to overcome the misunderstandings and live happily,” she said.