It took two phone calls, made years apart, to halt Kavita Akula’s life.
The first call came when Akula was just 13. She had recently participated in a first-of-its-kind try-out programme organised by IMG, the American sports academy behemoth, in New Delhi in 2009. The young native of Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, was already an accomplished star and national gold medallist for her home state. When her phone rang, she was at a national camp in Bhopal with her closest friends, practicing with India’s junior basketball team.
It was 2 a.m. Akula and her friends, enjoying the brief liberty of freedom from home, were still wide awake.
“My mum called me, and I knew I shouldn’t have been awake this late,” Akula recalls laughing. “When I picked up, she told me to be alone, to go outside the room. That’s when she told me the news, and I didn’t know what to say.”