I met Priyanka today, the Soccer Mom. Her son, Raihan, is a member of the All Stars United, a team in Division 2 of the Delhi International Football League. My daughter, Alexis, is also on the team, making me the Soccer Dad. My wife is the Coach, making me, well, the Coach’s Husband. That’s how I introduced myself last week to Robert, Raihan’s father, another Soccer Dad. He was amused with how I understood my identity.
Our identities, of course, are wrapped up in relationships. Sometimes a first name is enough, but most of the time there is something more. For Priyanka, there’s more. This morning, as she introduced herself to me on the sidelines, it was just, I’m Priyanka, but I already knew her son and her husband. In some ways, that was enough, but the fact is I know much more. I know that her father was murdered, actually assassinated, almost twenty years ago. I know that just five years before that Priyanka’s grandmother met with the same fate. Both of them had been the Prime Ministers of India.
Priyanka comes from the Gandhi-Nehru family. They are much like the “first family” of India, as they have been dominant in national politics since India’s independence. Priyanka’s great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first Prime Minister of India and worked closely with the nation’s famed independence leader, Mahatma Gandhi (who, despite the same name, is not related to the family). Priyanka's grandmother was Indira Gandhi, India's first and only female Prime Minister, who remained in office for fifteen years. After her assassination, she was succeeded by her son, Rajiv Gandhi, Priyanka's father. Today, Priyanka’s mother, Sonia Gandhi, is the President of the Indian National Congress and is considered to be one of the most influential women in the world. Priyanka's brother, Rahul, has just entered politics in the past five years, but many think that he will someday be the next from this family to be Prime Minister. According to some polls, many would prefer Priyanka in that role. Apparently, she’s not interested.
We didn’t talk politics today on the sidelines. We chatted about soccer, about little sisters, and about ballet. That’s her world, and my world. Today, that was enough. There’s much more to both of us, but for now we met as individuals, and as parents.
After the game, the security guards and secret service personnel will swoop in from their posts behind us and escort the family off the field, out of the gates, and into their vehicles. With lights flashing and guns loaded, Priyanka and her family will be taken home.
Raihan and Alexis are disappointed today, along with the rest of us. We lost 1-0. But we’ll all be back next week, I hope.
Although Priyanka has refused politics, Raihan may choose otherwise. If he does, he may someday become the Prime Minister of India. For now, he’s Robert and Priyanka’s son. For me, he’s Alexis’ teammate. Today, that’s enough.