Suresh Raina, one of India’s best cricketers, has joined forces with a writer for cricket Bharat Sundaresan to publish a brand new book called Believe the Truth: What Life and Cricket taught me (2021). The book is a memoir that reveals extraordinary and troubling events from the life of Raina. It is published in the UK by tPress, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It is an attempt to cover more than the strengths and shortcomings of a batsman, fielder, and bowler.
In 1986, born to a Kashmiri father and a Himachali mom, Raina lived with his siblings in Muradpur, Uttar Pradesh (UP). The book recounts his joyful childhood memories of eating the kulfi and bread and pakoras and playing in his hometown’s filthy river of Nala. It also chronicles the agony of the Kashmiri descendants of Pandits, who were forced to quit the valley during the 90s. Raina writes, “Once my father told Farooq Abdullah Sahib that we’d moved to the UP and we didn’t have anything to do with the government he was in.”
The book also gives an insight into the admiration of Raina of Sachin Tendulkar, who Raina calls “Paaji” in addition to “a wonderful source of inspiration.” Raina writes, “I was…fortunate enough to share a dressing-room with him, play in the middle of him, and to go through some of the most memorable moments and lows of my cricket career together.”
The book’s name originates from a tattoo on Raina’s arm, which reads, “Believe.” The tattoo was carved to remind her of Tendulkar’s words to his son.
Bond with Tendulkar
Then, shortly after Tendulkar declared his retirement plans for 2013, Raina asked him to mentor him. Raina notes, “I called him up and asked him to help me with my cricket. He was not only quick to agree but also made sure that he was in the cricket facility in BKC. Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) each time I visit the BKC.” Raina was moved by Tendulkar’s efforts to prepare himself for 2014. England tour.
In one of their intense training sessions, Tendulkar pulled Raina aside and told him, “Believe in yourself. You’re capable of it.” This book illustrates that Raina was able to take these words of encouragement seriously and set out to work not only on his skills but also on his attitude. This tale demonstrates how vital it is for successful athletes to put their energy and time into mentoring their younger counterparts which require guidance, direction and encouragement.
The book also contains humorous stories about Tendulkar that may surprise people who haven’t heard of his hilarious side. Once, Raina and Tendulkar were travelling on the same plane and sitting right next to each other. The air hostess mistakenly believed Raina was Tendulkar’s son and told him, “Hi, Arjun, how do you feel? What’s your mom’s name?” Tendulkar did not wish to miss an enjoyable laugh, so he informed the hostess that his wife was unhappy with his son because the boy was not studying. Tendulkar made a wink at Raina and asked her to join in.
These moments of laughter and fun soften the publication, brimming with tales of the many struggles Raina has faced in his life. Raina reveals the loss of brother Rakesh who was involved in an accident on the highway in 1997. Rakesh was riding on a bus which collided with a truck, and he was seriously injured in the head. People who witnessed the accident fled rather than helping Rakesh, and This led Raina to go through a lot of pain and pain, mainly because one of them was a close family friend.
Ragging in hostel
The book also delved into Raina’s experiences at Lucknow Sports Hostel, where Raina and his fellow students were subjected to savage treatment from the seniors. They were beaten with hockey sticks, suffered cold water splashed over their faces and were made to serve tea to different rooms. Seniors forced them to sit up, cut the lawn during winter nights and put dead insects, grass and dirt into their milk.
Raina, who kept journals of his own at the time, wrote, “How much of your unpleasant experiences do you need to share with your parents or partner? This is a difficult question. In the real world, we tend to conceal these facts to keep them from being hurt. However, eventually, they could get hurt more if they discover the truth on their own. Perhaps the key is to recognize that your pain could be their suffering too and that you should share the pain.”
In the publication, Raina reveals that he and his fellow students attempted to be “mentally solid,” but the bullying was too much for them to manage. One of his friends from the hostel was so affected by the abusive behaviour he threatened to send himself to the grave. Raina made up an excuse for illness to escape the hostel, only to return to his home and his family in Muradpur.
Relationship with MS Dhoni
This book’s genuinely touching feature is the love Raina describes in his relationship with Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He calls him “Mahi.”
Raina says, “We came from small towns and had the same family background and were both soil sons. We loved desi-related things. Also, when you’re not at home, it’s only natural to search for a person with whom you can have a chat about the dil ki baatein. Mahi Bhai was that one for me.”
In the volume, Raina expresses his unease about social gatherings such as embassy dinners and formal dining. He and Dhoni found it easier to eat in food courts during the tour and in Dhabas during their travels within India. Raina says, “The thing with fine dining is knowing exactly how to use the spoon and fork, and not forgetting the many different knives. It was all too difficult. We would band together and attempt to learn from watching other people.”
Raina’s ability to express these weaknesses commonly found in felt, but often hidden under the carpet, makes his writing lovable. Raina also writes about growing up in a household with many space limitations and a huge family living in one room. He proudly smiles while noting that the handbag he purchased for his sister after earning his first salary was worth as much as his scholarship, 10,000 rupees. 10,000, “which seemed like the equivalent of Rs. 10 crores in the past.”
The winning of the World Cup in 2011, playing in the Indian Premier League, getting married and becoming a dad are just some of the important events in the life of Raina that are featured in the book. Raina has many nice words to say about Rahul Dravid, his former teammate who is now taking charge as director of his team. The book is expected to be an enjoyable read for cricket fans and those who want to look at cricketers as stars and human beings.