Pragyan Ojha and Karabee Kailash are a perfect made-for-each other couple. But Karabee’s first impression of Ojha wasn’t a great one.
The Indian Test left-arm spinner says about his wife, “She was scared of the way I spoke the Hyderabadi Hindi,” he laughs.
Karabee interrupts, “I was not familiar with the Hyderabadi dialect since I grew up in Meghalaya. My parents shifted and I came here after my M.Sc to pursue higher studies in biochemistry. He was supposed to call me and pick me up. Till then I had never heard – kidhar ko aana? (Where I do come?). I wondered who it was. Why is he talking like this?” she laughs. Besides that one incident, everything else fell in place for the young couple.
Their first meeting was accidental. The 29-year-old player met his future wife through a common friend. “There was an instant connection with her when I came to know she was also from Odisha. We planned to watch a movie with four or five friends and she was one of them.”
Karabee’s mother lived in Tarnaka. “My classmate happened to be his friend. It was a gradual process. We understood that he is from Odisha. When I met him first, he was not in the Indian team,” recalls Karabee.
Wedding was not on the cards
Married in 2010, Ojha recalls that they never thought of going that far at the start. “It was not like the usual love story. But we wanted to know each other before settling down as husband and wife. I spoke with my parents and so did she, with her parents. They told us to take a couple of years before settling down and then think of marriage. Marriage teaches you self -discipline,” feels Ojha.
She is a lucky charm as he got his Indian cap a year after she had met him.
“I was glad. He did call me and told me that he was going to play for the country. We were more like friends and even now also we are like friends and not like a typical husband and wife,” says Karabee.
Home is where the heart is
Karabee says that her husband has a calm demeanour and never gets upset. “He doesn’t get angry normally but when he does, it is better to keep away from him. I just keep quiet,’’ she chuckles and continues, “He likes to be pampered a lot at home.”
Ojha shares, “Whenever I am not playing cricket, I’m at home. I feel happy and comfortable being at home. Very rarely do we go to a restaurant. Usually, we order for food delivered at home. She experiments a lot with new recipes. She tried a lot of Japanese dishes like sushi. I relish Japanese food. It is very difficult to cook and you need to have a lot of knowledge of it.’’
The couple finds solace in quiet prayers. “We don’t sit for hours but do a bit of pooja and my mom is a great devotee of Lord Jagannath,’’ reveals Ojha.
Wife’s tryst with cricket
Karabee admits that she knew Ojha is a cricketer, there is little she knows about the game. “I used to watch the game when I was in school. I did not know that we had tournaments like the Ranji Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and all these things.’’
She initially accompanied her husband to test matches, but later on she got occupied with her own work.
Karabee was in Mumbai when Ojha took ten wickets. It was also Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar’s last cricket Test match against the West Indies in 2013. Ojha tells us, “She doesn’t like to be in front of the camera.’’
Reminiscing about that match, Karabee has a hearty laugh. “I always stay away from the game as I don’t understand what is going on. I can’t even identify Pragyan when he is on the ground. So I would prefer to watch it on television. I was in the room and my sister called me asked me what I was doing in the hotel when my husband was taking wickets on the field. I was sleeping in the room then. I had to rush to the Wankhede Stadium to catch the moments. The atmosphere was amazing and everyone was excited. It was a different experience,” shares Karabee. Her favourite cricketer is MS Dhoni. “I like the way he conducts himself and he is a very confident player.”
Pillar of strength
Ojha feels that Karabee and his mother have a great influence on him. “They have been a source of inspiration and pillar of strength to me. Whenever I have doubts or feel low, they help me. Rather, they inspire me. I believe in hard work,” says the cricketer.
Both the women have been by his side at all times. “ If I have been selected for the team, or not, both my mom and wife keep motivating me. I train properly and do the basic things. I always believe a happy family is very important in one’s life. They understand the situation and accordingly make me comfortable,” feels an emotional Ojha.
Though Karabee has always be supportive, she admits that she was disappointed when he was dropped from the Indian team. “I do feel hurt. But at the same time, I feel we are getting more time together. It is making our bond stronger. We watch movies together and spend time with our good friends. They bring us all the happiness. He is a very hard working cricketer. I have joined him in fitness training,” she boasts about her husband.