The Proust Questionnaire is a fortnightly feature that alternates with the Saturday interview. These questions were most famously answered by the French writer Marcel Proust, whose personality-revealing responses came to define this form of celebrity confession. This questionnaire was administered by K. Pradeep
What is your idea of happiness?
In my opinion happiness is nothing but satisfaction - satisfaction through work, thoughts and accomplishing our mission and vision.
What is your greatest fear?
I fear human beings, because we cannot predict the swings of a human being. They are capable of doing anything. I really fear that.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Truly, my anger.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
More belief in hard work and selfishness.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
First, of course, as a sportswoman, almost achieving what would have been India's first ever Olympic medal in the 400 metres hurdles, missing by 1/100th of a second at Los Angeles on August 8, 1984, 5.45 p.m. Then motherhood.
If you were to die and come back as a person or thing, what do you think it would be?
As P. T. Usha
If you could choose what to come back as, what would it be?
If life could come back, if I could roll back the years, I would like to relive my most cherished moment, the Los Angeles Olympics. I would like to compete with the same fellow runners, but this time finishing at the podium.
What is your idea of misery?
Misery and sorrow, I don't want to have anything to do with them. I always want to be happy and cheerful. I know it is very difficult to maintain this frame of mind always but I try to be like this.
Where would you like to live?
At Payyoli, Kerala, in Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil, my ancestral house, along with my whole family, beloved husband and son.
What is your favourite occupation?
Sport. I think I'm fortunate to pursue the occupation I love. There's nothing like experiencing victory and defeat on the track. Now, as a ‘guru' I'm enjoying an extension of my favourite occupation, which I hope to continue for long.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Perseverance and hard work; being sincere in my approach and honest in my efforts.
What is the quality you most like in the opposite sex?
What do you most appreciate in your friends?
Who are your favourite authors?
I cannot think of anyone beyond Ved Vyas. For me The Mahabharatha is the greatest literary work ever written.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
The Ramayana is another work that has deeply influenced me. One of my favourite characters is Hanuman. It is because he symbolises speed and loyalty. I have always believed that loyalty is a quality that should exist in human beings.
Who are your heroes in real life?
Myself. Right through, I have been battling, competing against myself. And that self has been ahead always. If there's another hero it must be Edwin Moses, whom I met for the first time in 1984 at Los Angeles.
What are your favourite names?
Vignesh (Ujjwal), that's my son's name. Then are other names by which I'm known which are also my favourites, like Golden Girl, Sprint Queen, Uddan Pari and Payyoli Express.
What is your present state of mind?
Thinking what would be next.
How would you like to die?
Natural death, preferably in my sleep.
What is your favourite motto?
Patience first, work hard next, and enjoy the rest.
Sprinter and hurdler P. T. Usha was the first Indian woman athlete to reach the final of an Olympic event, at the Los Angeles Games in 1984. At the Asian Track and Field Meet in Jakarta, she won five gold medals. A recipient of the Arjuna Award and the Padma Shri, Usha now runs the Usha School of Athletics, Koyilandy, near Kozhikode.