Maa. Amma. Mom. Mother. There are many expressions for her, but just the same amalgamation of emotions - positivity, reinforcement, happiness, pride, and support to name a few - behind them.

On Mothers Day, a Punjab Kings player shared his special memories of his mother, the support from her throughout his career, and the uncomplaining sacrifices she has made to bring out the best in him. This is the story of Ishan Porel and his mother, Rita Porel, who, in his own words, is his “best friend in the whole wide world.”

Coming from a family of sportspersons, he didn’t particularly have to fight his way into cricket. “I had a lot of support, from both mom and dad, since I belong to a family with a sports background. But my mom, especially, was and is still my best friend who has backed me since my childhood,” the 2018 U19 Cricket World Cup star said.

“My mother has played a very big role in my life. Without her, I don’t see myself coming to this stage of my life - be it playing for Punjab Kings, India A or Bengal,” the right-arm pacer told the Punjab Kings in an exclusive interview.

Early days of training

Porel recounts what an average day would look like during his early days of cricket training. Living outside Kolkata, he had to make a long journey to get to his training camp everyday. Usually, the call time was 7 AM, but the day would start much earlier at the Porel household.

“If I had to report at 7 AM in the morning, I had to be out of the house by 5 AM to catch the 5.15 AM train. So basically, I had to wake up at 4.30 AM, get ready and leave the house,” Porel recounts. “My mom would wake up much earlier, maybe 4AM, I don’t even know because she had always asked me not to worry about all of this and take a good rest before going to practice,” he said.

“At that time, I didn’t even know how much she had sacrificed,” he adds. “So, basically, I had to catch the 5.15 AM train, get down at Howrah station, and from there catch a bus or a ferry to the closest point near my training centre, from where I would have to walk for 10-15 minutes,” he recollects.

“My mother would always ensure I had some breakfast on the way, since it would get very tiring to undergo four hours of practice without food. I would finish practice, come back home late afternoon or early evening, take some rest and do my studies,” Porel reminisces.

However, it was not all that easy for his mother, who would wake up before he did to cook for the family, take him to practice, spend the day there and come back to more chores at home. Later, she would drop him at practice and come back home to get chores done.

“At least I could get home and rest. But my mom, she would come back to her chores at home, make food for my father too who had to go to work and so, there was really no rest for her,” Porel said, emphasising how these early training days were probably tougher on his mother than for him.

Mommy’s special and proudest moments

The youngster’s mother would often make his favourites - soya bean curry or baingan ka bharta - on the good days. “These are the dishes I used to love. Sometimes, I would come back home and eat eight or ten rotis with these since the days were long. At that point of time, we had no idea about food control and all,” he said sheepishly.

“Those days were nice,” the PBKS bowler smiled. His mother also has been his biggest support and loudest cheerleader during the lows. He revisits a specific memory during the India U19 World Cup in 2018, where he played with an injury.

“She used to keep encouraging me throughout my recovery from the injury. I was not fully recovered and I still had to play. She would tell me, ‘you don’t need to worry about playing, just enjoy, you’ve done well, which is why you are here. Don’t think you can’t play because of the injury. If things happen, they will. Just have faith in God and do your work.’ And that game me lots of confidence,” Porel said.

The boy from Bengal ended up with a spell of 7-0-30-2 in the final of the U19 World Cup against Australia, helping India claim the throne.

Bengal reaching the Ranji Trophy Semifinal in 2020 was another memorable moment with his mother for this youngster. “A picture of me and my mother was picked up by publications with a headline about how the last time Bengal reached a Ranji Trophy final, Ishan Porel, the boy who made this happen now, was simply a kid,” the pacer revealed.

The proudest his mother has ever been was not during the U19 World Cup or while helping Bengal rewrite Ranji Trophy history. “She was the proudest whenever I took up initiatives to help people out as much as I could (during Covid lockdowns). Mom was very proud when I was doing what I could to take care of people who could barely even manage meals,” he said.

“She always tells me that when we have enough money, she would like to have maybe an orphanage or an old age home. That is her dream, I really want to fulfil it. She was the happiest with my work at that time,” Porel recounted.

He goes on, “My mother said, ‘People may forget how far you go as a cricketer, but they will remember you as a good human being who helped them when they needed it the most’.” The PBKS pacer has immense respect for his mother, and acknowledges the difficulties she went through to get him to where he is today.

“She is special. I look up to her discipline, down-to-earth nature and her ability to treat each and every person with the same respect. No one is bigger or smaller in her eyes. These small things have helped me get ahead in life so much. I will always be grateful for these to her,” he recounts.

As for Mother’s Day, Porel is sending her a bunch of gifts, since he misses her immensely from being inside the PBKS bubble. “I am sending her some things so she feels special tomorrow (on Mother’s Day). I am missing her and maybe she misses me too,” he smiles.

One can never say too much about the important role a mother plays in the lives of their children. As Ishan Porel put it perfectly, “She is special and will always be my best friend.”