Women’s World Cup star Archana Devi’s full story of from calling her mother a witch to winning the U19 Women’s World Cup.
Women’s World Cup star Archana’s mother Savitri Devi was previously criticised and called a witch for showing daughter wrong path
Women’s World Cup Star Archana’s Mother was committed about letting her play cricket because of the dying brother’s final requests.
She was described to as a ‘daayan’ (a witch) after losing her son to a snake bite and her husband to cancer. Then, family members blamed Savitri Devi of sending her daughter Archana on galat rasta (wrong path). When she dismissed England’s Grace Scrivens and Niamh Holland in the U19 World Cup final on Sunday, Archana gave India the winning margin.
There were rumours floating around the neighbourhood that Savitri had sold Archana to a shady dealer when she attended her cricket-obsessed daughter in the all-girls boarding school “Kasturba Gandhi Awasiya Balika Vidyalaya” in Ganj Moradabad, 15-20 kilometres from their village of Ratai Purwa, Unnao, in Uttar Pradesh.
Savitri Devi said that people used to tell me “Ladki ko bech diya, ladki ko galat dhande mey daal diya hai, ye saari baatein mere muh pe bolte the (I have sold my daughter, I have put her in the wrong line, People have accused me with these things directly to my face).
Savitri has continued to act as a polite person to some of these same people on the day her daughter played England U19 in the World Cup finals. “My home is currently crowded with visitors, and I don’t have enough blankets for everyone. The neighbours, who have never had a drink from my home, are now supporting me, she claims.
Shivram, the father of Archana, passed away from cancer in 2008, leaving Savitri with a lots of debt and three young children. Her younger son Budhiman Singh passed away in 2017 due to a snakebite. At that time, neither her friends nor her family spared her.
“Meri maa ko gaon waale daayan bulate, kehte they pehle apne pati ko kha gayi, fir apne bete ko, Maa ko dekh kar toh raasta badal lete they, humare ghar ko daayan ka ghar kaha jata tha” (They used to call my mother a witch, they said that my mother first killed her husband and then son. If anyone sees her on the road, they changed their path. Our home was called witches’ house),” says elder brother, Rohit Kumar.
In March 2022, during the first lockdown, Rohit lost his work at a textile factory in Kapashera Border, New Delhi; he describes the sufferings their mother had to through to provide the needs for her kids.
Every year, floods affect us. Our farm is flooded in Ganga River flows about half the time. Our dependency on our cow’s and buffalo’s milk (one each). Because of our mother, we have survived for all these years. She even pushed me into completing my degree, and now she wants me to get ready for government employment,” her brother continues.
Brother’s death from snake-bite
Despite all of these challenges in her life, Savitri continued. Only her dying son’s last plea to “let Archana fulfil her dream” gave her the courage.
“Budhiman, who was only a year older than Archana, used to play cricket with her. She made a shot, and the ball landed in a badly constructed room that we never finished after her father passed away. The ball would always come out of the garbage with the bat, but this time he used his hands and got bitten by a cobra. On our way to the hospital, he passed away in my arms. He said, “Archana ko cricket khilao,” as his final words (Let Archana play cricket). When she returned to school after Budhiman’s passing, she began to take cricket seriously, and my mother never intervened,” adds Rohit.
New attitude in the village
Savitri Devi’s home is overwhelmed with visitors, family members, and neighbours on the day of the U19 Women’s World Cup star final. They are all repeating the same thing: “Tum logo ki toh ab kismat badal gayi (The fortune of your family is going to change now). She is busy in the kitchen, though, cooking food for maybe 20–25 people, unconcerned by the two-faced murmurs.
“My mother is a great lady, she is serving tea to those people, who had never supported us with a single coin,” says 21-year-old Rohit by taking her mother’s phones from her hand.
Savitri Devi heard the sound and was laughing in background and said, “Kuch bhi bolta hai, baat puri ho jaaye fir phone charge kar lena, Women’s World Cup match bhi dekhna hai (He talks nonsense. Charge your phone once the interview is over because we have Women’s World Cup evening game to watch.)”
Coach Punam Gupta at Archana’s school was really taken by her skill. During the summer break, she contacted Kuldeep Yadav’s instructor Kapil Pandey when she returned to her Kanpur home. After viewing Archana’s videos, Kapil Pandey requested to meet her in Kanpur and offered to pay for her cricket expenses out of his own wallet.
“I could tell she was passionate, and I had a gut sense this young lady has skill and could represent her country if given the right opportunity. “I did my part to support her by getting her enrolled with the Kanpur Cricket Association; the rest was all her hard work,” recalls Pandey.
For inspiring Archana, Rohit gives Kuldeep Yadav credit. She would hear him say, “Archana, you will also have to play for India,” in reference to cricket. And Archana would nod, saying, “Haan bhaiya,” recalls Rohit.
“Kuldeep once took a few academy students out to lunch. Bhaiya ye kaunsi gaadi hai? questioned Archana as they were travelling (Which car is this). Jab badi star ban jaoge toh isse bhi achhi gaadi lena aur hum sab ko ghumana, Kuldeep bhai nicely answered. (You will receive a bigger salary after you become a huge star.
Give us a ride if your automobile is better than mine. “Ji bhaiya” was the response that was given, adds Rohit.