NEW DELHI: Indian table tennis player Takeme Sarkar wanted to take her game to the next level and compete alongside world-class players. She decided to go to Spain in the last week of February 2020 to train. The paddler from Siliguri packed her bags, hugged her parents and her brother and departed for the airport. But she didn’t know that that was going to be her last goodbye to her younger brother.
Takeme, who is currently under lockdown in Spain due to the fast-spreading coronavirus pandemic, lost her younger brother in a road accident in March, just a month after she landed in Spain. All she could do was cry over the telephone and console her mother and father.
“My family is waiting for me back home in Siliguri. They are also in a terrible condition. I lost my younger brother in a road accident on March 23. I am shattered from inside. I am really worried about my family. I cried day and night after getting the news. Wish I was there to see my brother one last time and support my parents. I will miss him all my life. It is difficult to spend a single day here. I am really upset,” Takeme told Timesofindia.com in an exclusive interview from Spain.
Takeme, who is currently India number 13, went to Spain for personal training in February and competed in a club tournament. She has been under lockdown since then.
“I am stuck in Priego de Cordoba in Spain because of the lockdown due to COVID-19. I came here on February 25 for personal training and a club tournament. Due to the pandemic, the tournament had to stop and I couldn’t fly back home,” she said.
“I came here for personal training under some highly-professional trainers. I played some matches too to gain motivation, experience and confidence. I am currently India No. 13. Playing with international players, gives you a different experience and that’s why I came here,” the 27 year old Takeme said.
“I am staying in an apartment in Priego de Cordoba. The club is taking care of me. The club members are helping me a lot. My two flights were cancelled and my third booked flight was supposed to fly back on May 10 via Turkish airlines, but the ticket was cancelled. It was because the area where I currently live was sealed and I couldn’t get a cab to the airport. My visa was valid till May 10 and it has also expired. I have somehow approached the Indian embassy and they have assured me of help,” an emotional Takeme said.
“I have requested the Embassy and they have assured me of help. I just want to go back home as soon as possible. They (Indian Embassy in Spain) asked me to register and I did that as well. They said it works on a turn by turn basis. I am waiting for the day when I can go back home,” she said.
The Indian paddler came to Spain with enough money for two months, since it was a personal tour. The 27-year-old is now running out of money. And that understandably has made her horror worse.
“Whatever I brought from India, in terms of money, I have spent almost all of it. I was scheduled to go back home just after the training and tournament. As the lockdown was extended, my expenses increased. I spend on food, apartment charges, electricity etc. I brought money for 2 months. Now, I am not able to afford the daily expenses. I buy 1kg of rice for Rs. 300 here and have to pay extra for vegetables. 200 Euros is the rent of my apartment. That’s a major problem for me right now,” Takeme told TimesofIndia.com.
“The members of TTFI (Table Tennis Federation of India) are in touch with me and assured help. They keep asking me about my wellbeing. Everyone is giving me assurance, but no helping hand has come forward till now. I can understand the situation in India as well. That is the reason they can’t help me right now maybe,” Takeme signed off.