Over the last two days, Megha Vakharia has realised there is more to life than just tennis. That there are times when match points and double faults don't mean a thing, and one is lucky to just be alive. Thanks to the fury of the monsoon.
It was 2.30 in the afternoon on Tuesday when 20-year-old up and coming tennis star Megha decided to go to Juhu Beach in Mumbai and have some fun with her friends Sasha Contractor and Pratim Parikh, also a tennis player.
The weather was pleasant with cool winds. But by the time her friends and she reached the sea in half an hour, it had become a violent storm.
"There was no sand there, the waves were pulling in. I have known from incidents when my cousins were caught in such situations, so I told my friends that we should immediately leave the place," Megha said.
But if she thought she had escaped a danger, what followed was more devastating, mentally if not physically. First the car, which was completely drowned when they returned.
"It was school time traffic and so we had parked it at some distance from the beach. When we came back it was full of water. We took the phones and other valuables, and there was no other way but to walk back."
The roads were flooded, and the rain continued to hammer down with brute force. There was no question of going home which would take at least 2-3 hours during normal rush hour. Sasha's place was the nearest, two lanes away. So they went there.
But that short distance seemed a long road down the hell.
"There were dead bodies floating," Megha said, her voice still shaken.
Once home, she tried to call her parents. But then there was no electricityand no phones working.
Herfather himself was caught in the traffic on his way back from office to home in Bandra. Her mother, a housewife, made the sensible decision of staying home so that she could take phone calls -- if at all they came -- and that way her children and husband would know she was safe at home.
Itwas only next morning on Wednesday that Megha could reach home. Her father soon arrived after spending the night in the car.
"Ithink I am, we are, lucky, extremely lucky. I can only imagine what the millions who live in makeshift homes would have gone through," Megha said.
"Thewoman who comes to collect garbage, her home and those of others were destroyed. She can't even cook now, and we are arranging whatever we can for her."
Sincethen, Megha has been trying to reach people to share information and provide help if any needed. Some of her friends on the circuit were keen to know about the scene in Mumbai, and she has kept them posted through the internet.
Hermother and she went out to assess the situation on Wednesday.
"Itwas really a bad scene. I am a very sensitive person and couldn't take what I saw," Megha said.
Therains have changed her perspective on life in general and sports in particular.
"Ihad always thought it to be child's play. Now I will never go out in rain. I'm happy for all those who didn't go through this at all, and hope this never happens again to anyone."
Megha was scheduled to play in the qualifiers of a USD 25,000event in China next week, but that is the last thing on her mind now.
"Whereand how am I going to practise in these rains," she asks.