———————————————- Contributed by Malspie,Consultant Astro Vaastu.
Meet Mrs Girijabai Ganpat Hande, an ‘ideal’ to all those who loose hope in life. Born in a humble family in Ganeshwadi, Khatau Taluka, Satara District, Maharashtra, India; her family comprised of her parents, 3 brothers and sisters respectively.
Her father was a farmer and spent most of his time on field. Girija remembers herself as a little girl either helping her father in field or her mother at home. May be she was 14 or 15 when alliance for marriage had started pouring in and was seriously taken up for discussions amongst elders. In those days, girls had very little ‘say’ in that matter. An alliance from Mumbai the dream city was well appreciated by her parents and relatives, before she could blink a thought, she was married to a man who worked as a ‘Mukadam’ in a reputed mill in Mumbai. It does not matter to the fact she menstruated only after a few months of her marriage. They started their newly married life in a 10/10 room which they called their ‘home’ in the heart of the dream city, with common lavatory and a small wash facility provided in the corner of her room which served as sink, bathroom etc..
Mumbai then Bombay was a fairyland for Girija. Local Trains, buses, cars, trucks, theatres, mammoth crowd on roads, concrete buildings are how she remembers Mumbai around 60 to 63 years ago. Her husband was very loving and caring.
The first 18 years of her married life was like any normal lower middle class family, happy and contended with what they could earn and spend. She has four sons and a daughter. She would cook and care for her family at home, while her husband put in extra hours of work outside to meet the ends. His long working hours took toll on his body and one fine day he got confined to bed with a stroke of paralysis. With children’s education on one side and daily expenses on the other, with medical expenses mounting, the world seemed to have fallen apart for her. She had to think fast and take quick decisions. She primarily decided to send her sons back to the village to her in-laws to continue their education. Her daughter was with her who helped her in household chores and did her schooling side by side.
Girija was always admired for her cooking skills and in those days, she recollects, mill workers were living in crammed rooms, with their family back in village, struggling to get a decent home cooked food. They had a lady at the corner of the street who cooked for them, but her culinary skills was not up to the mark, as they had no choice, they were stuck to her. Girija did not loose courage at this bend of her life, she had to pull up her socks and think practical. Instead of mourning on the issues, she decided to run a eatery joint at home itself, home made piping hot food was her mantra. Few mill workers who were from her village spread the news and soon Girija was cooking for around 25 men at home. Her daughter would assist in washing vessels and other small chores. Girija found it very tough initially, she had a husband who needs her care, she has to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner as per the shift schedule of the workmen, simultaneously, she had to go to the market to pick up grocery, veggies, meat, fish etc as per the menu she charts, she also had to go to the nearest flour mill to grind the wheat / bajra and jowar; as bakri / chappati is the staple diet of Maharashtrians. Girija narrates her tale to me with a smile on her face, “You just have to do it, how/what/when – words are the enemies of our life. I cannot go out and work, firstly, I am not educated, so the chances of me getting a good job is less, secondly, the mill was ready to offer me a job, but who will take care of my husband, who will tend to his needs, he was on bed; I have to think of a job which will help me tender to the needs of my family and at the same time pump in some money. As I was married at the age of 15, I was quiet young to face the challenge too”, vouches Girija.
Indeed what a challenge has this lady taken up, starting her day at 4 in the morning, planning and proceeding with daily routine with absolute care, nursing her husband, sending her daughter to school, with less turn over, initially, she could not hire anyone to wash vessels, clean the kitchen, etc. herself and her daughter would mange the chore, monitoring her husbands needs round the clock, running to the market in prime time, to pick up stocks, end her hard chore day at 12 mid-night. She proudly croons has slept for only 4 hours for 25 years of her life.
Girija prefers to count her blessings; her four sons pursued their studies with great interest. Her eatery joint just kept swelling with every passing year, money kept pouring in, now she could hire help to do the odd jobs of cleaning and washing, slowly every thing was falling in its own place.
Girija was very wise with funds, she would make jewellery off the extra money that would pour in during festivals and other ceremonies. Her elder son had decided to take up farming and stayed back in her village. He would constantly keep a check of good farm lands and bargain a good deal and sign up for it. Slowly their farming yields started pumping in the required groceries for her catering. Girija was finding things going smoother. Destiny though gave her a hard kick on one fine day; it also had some pleasant surprises hidden for her.
Her daughter was married off to a doctor, her elder son is a farmer, second son is one of the Board of Directors in a leading company, third son a doctor, fourth son a Custom Officer.
Girija reminisces her past with a contagious smile, nursing her husband on bed for 30 years was no big deal for this woman with great mental strength.
Today she may be in her 70’s but fit and agile. She takes the fast Mumbai local, climbs bridges, crosses road and walks up to meet her children / grand children. She is leading a happy and contended life. Her grand kids are doing good, they have plans to go abroad.
She still has the old 10/10 room in her name and is earning a good rent on it.
Girija says, “When you think positive, everything good happens to you, practical decisions always help”.
Girija with little knowledge of the world, no education, no financial backing either; did not think of taking to drugs or any vices or fall for any crime, no baba/ tantriks/ sansthas with great preaching for her, nor did she contemplate suicide. Well, when most of us have what Girija lacked, very few of us have the ‘Courage’ which this grand young lady had, to face life with her face up and keep moving. WE all need to take a cue from her life.
A GRAND SALUTE TO GIRIJABAI GANPAT HANDE.