Olympic medallist Vijay Kumar’s grandma hopes he will marry now

Finding the dot of a village, Harsaur, in Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh would have been a daunting task for a first-timer. But not on Saturday. About a four-hour drive from State capital Shimla, the long winding road to Harsaur in the Badsar subdivision is abuzz with news of Subedar Vijay Kumar Sharma wresting a silver medal in shooting at the London Olympics on Friday evening.

“Take the next left turn, go straight down, their house is on the main road,” … there are enough people to give you directions to Vijay’s house.

Endless stream

At the house, a newly tiled one-storey structure that touches a sprawling farmland where Vijay’s father Subedar (retired) Banku Ram Sharma grows “corn in monsoon and wheat in summer,” a group of villagers is dismantling a shamiana at the end of the day.

“Tomorrow [Sunday] we will raise it again. So many people are coming to visit us, it is difficult to accommodate all inside the house,” says a jubilant Banku Ram between receiving calls. Relatives, villagers, the District Magistrate, the Superintendent of Police, journalists and strangers from faraway places are streaming in to Vijay’s house since the news trickled in.

On catching it first on TV, Banku Ram rushed to the market to get sweets and cool drinks. Someone called the village DJ who played not just Bollywood numbers but Himachali songs, much to everyone’s delight.

Joint family

“We barely went to sleep at 3 in the morning, then had to wake up at 4 again as some relatives arrived,” says a smiling Roshni Devi, Vijay’s mother. Her daughter, residing six km away, rushed to be by their side leaving her child at home in the hurry. “She has just gone back to get him,” says Roshni.

Theirs is a joint family. “I have only one son. My brother-in-law has two sons, the older one works in Chandigarh in a software company. He also rushed home,” she says, pointing at her sister-in-law who is milking one of their four buffaloes. “Because of her, the household work is on,” says Roshni. Vijay’s grandmother Brahmi Devi’s only hope is that he will marry now.

“He told me I will settle down only after winning a medal in the Olympics and that is done now,” says Brahmi Devi, flashing a toothless smile.

In a newly constructed sitting room, all of Vijay’s medals are displayed in glass cabins. A life-size photograph of Vijay receiving the Arjuna award from the former President, Pratibha Patil, takes almost a wall. Roshni Devi points at a half-constructed room nearby, says, “This will be a new kitchen with a chimney. The other one at the end of the aangan has gas but we cook mostly in chula. Vijay now wants a modern kitchen.”

The parents and the villagers are looking forward to Vijay receiving the State government’s Himachal Gaurav award. It means Rs. 1 crore will also come Vijay’s way.

“We might use some bit of it to marry off two daughters of my husband’s sister, they are not in good financial condition,” says Roshni Devi. Two other daughters were married off by Vijay’s father with his retirement benefits. “Now the son will have to do it.”

Self-dependent

Banku Ram adds: “Otherwise we are self-dependent. Name anything that we eat at home, we grow it. Vijay doesn’t earn a lot but now that he has been getting some money by winning medals, there is some expectation from him. Shooting is an expensive sport. Last time he had to buy two pistols for Rs. 10 lakh.”