An 18-year-old boxer from Haryana, Ritu Antil came back to her home after 73 days from Sports Authority of India (SAI) campus in the Mumbai suburb of Kandivali. Antil got stuck at the campus after a nationwide lockdown was implemented in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Antil saw her father’s face after nearly three months after boarding a flight from Mumbai to Delhi on May 26. The flight was arranged by Sushmita Jyotsi, the SAI’s regional director in Mumbai.
“Seeing my father’s face after landing in Delhi felt so special. The last time I was home was in November, so to finally be here with my family after such a long wait makes me very happy,” Ritu told Hindustan Times after reaching Murthal village in Haryana’s Sonepat district.
The bronze medal winner at the 2018 All India Inter-SAI boxing competition shared her daily routine at the campus once the lockdown restrictions ended.
“After waking up, I would go for a run, practice, take bath, wash clothes, eat breakfast and sleep. I’d wake up for lunch, watch TV and relax, practice in the evening, have dinner, watch some more TV and go to bed.” She doesn’t recall the luxury of having so much time to watch TV ever in her life; “the common hostel TV became my personal TV,” she said.
Antil is currently undergoing 14-day quarantine at her home. She also explained how her friends’ posts on social media would make her feel homesick.
“Whenever I would check the status of my roommates and friends, I saw them having fun with family, enjoying their time at home. I would feel really bad at those times,” she said. Through those lonely months, Antil’s biggest source of strength was also the only other person around at the hostel, the warden Lena Sengupta.
“We would sit together and speak daily after lunch, generally about things. She stayed with me throughout and took care of me like a mother. She would wake me up for lunch, tell me when dinner was ready and watch TV together,” she said.