It was starting to rain as we reached a small village of about 350 mortals near Nagpur district, Bhivgad. We happened to stop by a lake which was also a tourist spot for passers. A secluded one though.
I took my time to read the tourist board at the entrance and then climbed down the rocky stairs which led to the lake. On my left, just a few steps away from the board was a small shop selling assorted stuff. Ranging from coconuts to paan masala to chips to toothpastes to shampoos to souvenirs of Gods for the people who visit the Mandir dedicated to ‘BHIMSEN’. It was a one stop shop for all the daily needs.
While my friends were busy hopping around and clicking pictures, I took a seat on a wooden bench near that little shop. An old woman sat behind the counter.
(It’s amazing to see a woman work through her old age.)
Upon chatting with her, I got to know that her name was Rambati taai. She, with her grandchildren (a mischievous 4 years old Khushi and the quiet 2 and a half years old Himanshu) and son in law run the shop. Her daughter had passed away at the time of giving birth to her second child. Taai has been living there for 35 long years, managing the kids and struggling to feed 4 mouths in a tourist place where it’s difficult to have a stable income.
She has raised her grandchildren with all the love she had to offer. She plans to educate her grandchildren in a year or two when she can, in a proper school.
I asked her about her daughter, taking out her torn wallet, she showed me her daughter Sita’s picture. The little Himanshu with morbid curiosity, snuggled under his grandma’s arm to see what she was showing me. His eyes instantly lit up, pointing out to the photograph he recognized his mother. Apparently Himanshu missed his mother.
He looked exactly like his mother. Rambati taai never let Himanshu learn what losing a parent meant.
Even at an old age, Rambati Taai has been pulling it together strongly despite all the hurdles and giving her family a basic normal life.
A half an hour conversation had made Rambati Taai feel light somehow.
There is something very liberating about the strength of a woman. No wonder she is the origin of all life on this earth.