Maheshwar Shaw is no household name. He is no celebrity. But he is instantaneously recognisable at Kolkata maidan – Mahesh or Mahesh mali , as he is referred to, is one of the city’s veteran groundsmen who is now associated with the iconic Rajasthan Club.
And while celebrities and celebrated sportspersons across the country are donating to relief funds set up to combat the coronavirus pandemic, Shaw too has done his bit – contributing Rs2,000 from his salary to the West Bengal State Emergency Relief Fund.
The amount may not seem like much, but it is a big deal for Shaw, who earns a monthly salary of Rs15,000. But the veteran who has served as groundsman for more than five decades is happy to have played his role as a “responsible citizen.”
“In times of crisis, I thought it was my duty to help out the people. I know I have limited resources, but at least my little contribution can feed one person for a few days. We should all come forward and help each other,” Shaw told Sportstar from Kolkata.
With the country under a 21-day lockdown till April 14, cricketing activities – as with nearly all other sports – have come to a standstill. While most of his fellow groundsmen have gone back home, Shaw, who hails from the Kendrapara district in Odisha, has decided to stay back at the Rajasthan Club tent. “This club has given me everything, and at such times, I can’t leave it and go. Also, it is important for all of us to stay indoors. I am just following the government guidelines,” Shaw said.
“I may not earn enough, but my family is happy that I have played my part as a responsible citizen... The cricketers in the past still remember me and that’s what I take back home,” said Shaw, who earlier also looked after the Eden Gardens track.
Having been associated with Kolkata maidan for 58 years now, Shaw still remembers how the late Jagmohan Dalmiya, the former Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and International Cricket Council (ICC) chief, took him to Dhaka for the ICC KnockOut Trophy in 1998.
Avishek Dalmiya, the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) president, lauded the veteran groundsman for his efforts. “The way the Bengal cricket fraternity has come forward to help people in these times shows they have a big heart. Shaw is a great example and it shows that there is no discrimination in sports and here everyone wants to help people,” said Dalmiya, the son of Jagmohan Dalmiya.
It’s not only Shaw. Other curators and assistant curators of the CAB – Sujan Mukherjee, Suranjan Mukherjee, Safi Ahmed, Ranjit Shaw, Birendra Pratap Singh and Pradip Nayek – have also made contributions.
These are tough times, but Shaw’s gesture has once again proven that sport has no boundaries!