Friday, May 8, 2009

The impatient Grandmaster, Viswanath Anand remenbers his mom on Mother's Day


  • Viswanathan Anand has done what few sports persons in India have achieved. He has captured the hearts of millions of cricket crazy Indians by playing an excellent game of chess. Today the world's chess champion has only seconds, but his first and most important coach was his mother Susheela. 35 years ago, it was Susheela who taught him the moves.
  • He was not restless, but he was certainly impatient, recalls Susheela of her early mentoring years. While playing chess, he would make a move but was unable to wait for the opponent to play his move. He wanted to make the second move immediately. Occasionally she used to tell him to study the board carefully but perhaps he could see more than she could.
  • Sushila could never play competitive chess, but there was no nice little tribute from a chess lover some time back who said that she would easily become a Grandmaster herself, if she had taken the game seriously. The if is a big hypothectical uncertainity, she is happy playing her role as mother, mentor and guide to perfection.
  • Her contribution to Anand's success is legendary and she found the perfect foil in her daughter-in-law Aruna to continue the same work that she had put in while defining the progress of her son.
  • The mother and son share an easy relationship. Anand still talks of his mother as though he is a child roaming in the family garden, waiting for her to pamper him. She has always been there for me, he says. Those few words explain it all- The month spent on the road participating in tournaments, the treats that they enjoyed after every win. Anand hsd travelled all over India and abroad with his mother and became good friends. She used to give him an Archie comic and Tintin whenever he won. He remembered his playing in Delhi and said after every win he would run for an icecream or a kulfi.
  • The initial years were very tough and they could have to stay with their relatives or friends whenever they were abroad. They used to save money and used to go out for a meal. But Anand's favourite homecooked food is Spinach sambar, lime rasam and potato curry.
  • The adjectives that define a young Anand -active and impatient-contradict the very nature of the game that he is a master of. Sitting patiently over a board was not his forte. His impatience is not limited to chess alone. It was the same with tennis laughed Susheela, but he was always to easy to handle.
  • Anand recalls instances when his mother would deprive him of his walkman when he became too difficult to handle.
  • Born in Chennai on December 11, 1969 to Viswanathan and Susheela, Anand grew up with his older brother and sister in a household that encouraged extra-curricular activities. Carrom was the family's game of choice. Susheela said, he used to be good in carrom too and as an afterthought she added that he never gave her any problems when he was a child.
  • Like any mother, eager to divulge those embarrassing childhood incidents their adult children would prefer buried in the family's skeletal cupboard, said Susheela when his father went to Zambia he brought home a big doll, and Anand played with it for a long time dayin and dayout.
  • The Grandmaster narrated his own embarrassing experience while attempting to buy a sari for his mother with the pocket money he had saved. He was in Dubai at that time and he asked the ladies team what size sari he should buy for his mom he said sheepishly. Of course, they burst out laughingly. He added that his mother still wears that sari.
  • Anand's mother Susheela recalled that her older siblings took care of him when he was a child. Even if she said something about Anand, they would react.
  • The one life lesson that his mom ensured he incorporates into his daily life was to never forget one's mistakes. There was this time when he lost the game, and his mom said that he had been too careless and had to think about his mistakes when he lost the game. He said that he was so angry that he wrote down all his opponent's move as brilliant and his as questionable. Even today, when he sees that notebook, he remembers how angry he was. But he learned an invaluable lesson that day. Today, after every tournament,he writes down all his thoughts and mistakes. It helps him remember.
  • The Anand's are a family that thrive on love, discipline and ability to enjoy life. She is a very patient mom. We share the need for a cool room, a warm blanket and a afternoon siesta, said Anand. He does not need that one day in the year to tell his mom he loves her. Every time he is with her, it is special and he feels 12 again.
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