Cyclone Amphan beats goalie who loses roof over head

Sudipto Chowdhury

Kolkata, Jun 2 (PTI) He had blocked fiery strikes several times, leading his side to victories, but goalkeeper Mithun Samanta failed to protect his own house and farm when cyclone 'Amphan' struck on May 20, pulverising everything that came in its way.

Left with a half-wrecked thatched roof and broken mud walls on two sides of his house in Budakhali village, South 24 Parganas, 27-year-old Samanta -- the sole breadwinner of his family -- is trying to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the calamity.

'Cyclone Amphan has destroyed our lives. Our mud house has been completely damaged. There is no roof on our head and two of the walls have collapsed... Another wall is on the verge of collapsing. Our betel farm has also been washed away,' Samanta, who recently joined Real Kashmir Football Club, told PTI on Tuesday.

The ever-swelling Muri Ganga river, just about 600 metres from his house, however, still poses a constant threat to all that has been spared by the cyclone.

'Everyday before sunset, I visit the Muri Ganga river bank to see how much it has advanced, how far it is from our house...Given the pace at which the river is eroding the bank, we might have to look for a new place soon,' he claimed.

Samanta, who had started playing professional football only three years ago, said all that the money he had earned so far has been used up in meeting family expenses, and the upkeep of the betel farm, his father's 'only prized possession'.

'People may ask why I have not saved enough...I have just played for three years and the little I earned was spent meeting family expenses. I feel ashamed to say this but I have no money left to rebuild my house or start farming afresh,' Mithun, who had played for Mohun Bagan in the past, said.

The family had been spending sleepless nights over the past two weeks, trying to cover the roof and the broken walls with tarpaulin and plastic sheets, the goalie said.

'It's been 13 days and electricity is yet to be restored in our area,' he said.

Sharing his May 20 experience, Mithun said, 'It was a close shave for us. The roof crackled under the pounding rain and, shortly after, the rooms were flooded. We fled to a relative's house nearby to seek shelter. I thank my stars that no one in the family sustained injuries.' Asked whether he had approached anyone for help, Mithun said his former colleague and Mohun Bagan's star player Shilton Paul recently visited him and assured him of help.

'I am trying to do everything I can on my own. Shilton (da) came over last week and took photographs of my home. He has promised to send help,' Mithun said.

West Bengal Sports Minister Arup Biswas, when informed about Mithun's financial condition, said he would reach out to him as soon as possible.

'All sportspersons affected by Cyclone Amphan have received help from our government. Nobody will go hungry. We will do the needful to assist Mithun,' Biswas told PTI.

Local MLA and state Sundarbans Affairs Minister Manturam Pakhira, when told about Mithun's plight, also said he would do everything possible to help Mithun and his family.

'I had no clue about his condition. Now that I have come to know about it, I will get all details from the (panchayat) pradhan and offer him necessary assistance,' Pakhira said. PTI SCH RMS KJ KJ KJ