Khar building collapse: Teen squashes trauma to win national squash title

Updated: 14 November, 2019 07:26 IST | Pallavi Smart | Mumbai

Khar girl who lost everything in Sept building collapse wins national junior Squash title

Aishwarya Khubchandani
Aishwarya Khubchandani

What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger," is what life has taught 16-year-old Aishwarya Khubchandani, who has won the Junior Nationals of Squash just two months after her family lost their home in the Khar building collapse. The teen's feat has come as a ray of hope for her family as they settle into their new rented flat in the vicinity. Aishwarya was inside her house on the first floor of the five-storey Bhole Apartment along with her maid on September 24 when the building started to collapse.

Both of them had managed to run out of the house in time but what makes her mother extremely sad even now is that they lost all of Aishwarya's certificates and trophies, based on which she was looking at taking admission for higher studies abroad.

'So proud of her'

Speaking to mid-day, Roshni said, "Our side of the building hadn't collapsed but the authorities concerned were not allowing us to enter the structure fearing an untoward incident. But my daughter is already on her way to winning more trophies and I am so proud of her."

It was also for the first time Aishwarya went out of station for her training and championship alone, while her parents were struggling to look for a rented house around Diwali.

Sharing her experience, the teen said, "While I was still trying to come to terms with what had happened, I had to go to Kolkata for training. During that week, coaches and players alike would tell me that I was not able to play like I usually do. I didn't feel ready at all after everything that happened in the past month.

SquashAishwarya Khubchandani (second from left) receiving her award

"I had a severe wrist injury, which kept me away from squash for three weeks, and just when I started playing again, the building collapse disturbed me mentally so much that I couldn't even think of touching the racket for a week. Apart from that, I was travelling without my main support system — my parents — for the first time ever. With every match, I worked hard to earn the points and came out victorious."

Challenging phase

It was certainly a challenge for Aishwarya, as according to her mother, she would tremble every time she heard a loud noise.

"We thought that going back to squash training would help her heal," shared Roshni. "I had never thought that I would experience something like this. I never thought of the need to run for my life," said the 16-year-old squash player.

Recalling her experience of that day, she said, "It was a regular Tuesday afternoon. I was in my room preparing for exams. Suddenly, I heard a rumbling sound and the building started to shake. Terrified I rushed to the window and saw two watchmen and a resident running towards the gate. It looked like there was smoke everywhere.

"Without a second's thought, I called my mother, and before I could even finish telling her what was happening, she asked me to leave the house immediately. The moment I opened the door, I saw everyone screaming in panic.

"My neighbours were already on their way down the staircase full of rubble. My heart started to beat faster, as I shut the door and descended cautiously down the uneven staircase."

Aishwarya showed immense courage and grace as she further said, "I am so grateful that I managed to win my first ever national title even after everything I went through. To me, victory wasn't the national title. Of course, that made it a lot more special, but it was the fact that I could muster the courage to play the tournament and emerge victorious."

Sept 24
Day the Khar building had collapsed

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First Published: 14 November, 2019 07:10 IST

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