She represents us, Indian women! She is India! Yes, Lata Kare is my ‘Idea of India’! In case you are envisioning any ‘Know all’ Intellectual Smarty, Sports Celeb or any Westernized Fashionista, let me introduce you to our lady…..here is our today’s heroine!
Our typical rural Maharashtrian lady clad in 9 yards saree, a big kumkum on forehead, hair tied into a bun and barefooted! She won’t impress you with any fluent English. She speaks in rural Marathi tongue that might pull the faces of many city elites! But the story she has to tell is something beyond our imagination! Read it out!
Lata Bhagwan Kare is 65 year old farming laborer. Resident of small village called Pimpli in Buldhana district of Maharashtra. While braving the lows and highs, her life has always been centered on her husband and her four children, three daughters and a son. Standing shoulder to shoulder with her husband, she helped him carry out the responsibilities of life. After all the children were married off and settled in life, Lata and her husband carried on with their lives working in the farms for daily wages. Having been used to poverty all along, it faced no discomfort as such. Eating a bite less than needed was a daily routine that didn’t dampen the content of soul! And then an entry of a set-back disturbed this peaceful pattern!
Lata’s 70 year old husband, Bhagwan Kare was diagnosed with a heart disease. The local doctor advised him to be taken to the Government Hospital of Buldhana city. With the financial support from neighbors and relatives, Lata took her husband to Buldhana Hospital. Imagine her distress when the doctors of Buldhana Hospital further advised her to go to Baramati Hospital, some 400 KM away! After some more struggle, she managed to collect a sum of money and travelled to Baramati along with her ailing husband. But her problems had not ended, they had just begun.
The Doctor at Baramati Hospital asked to get an MRI scan done. With the sense of premonition, she asked the doctor the cost of the test. The sum he named was a big blow to her…5000 rupees! How on earth was she supposed to pay for this test? Here was a man who had sacrificed all his life for the comfort of her and her children. Now she was clueless as to how to save him when he was left between life and death. Her helplessness was suffocating. There was no money source that she had left unused. Tears started rolling down her cheeks inconsolably. After a while, even the stock of tears got exhausted. She numbly looked around and chanced to glance upon a catchy headline on the local newspaper of Baramati lying near her.
A cash-prize of Rs 5000!!! The amount needed for the MRI test. She seized the paper and read feverishly. It was the news of Marathon Race conducted in Baramati every year. 5000 rupees cash prize was enough for her to make up her mind. Run, she will….for saving her husband’s life!
As destiny would have it, Lata fell ill on the eve of marathon. But fighter that she was, she went at the spot of Marathon race in spite of ill-health. Here her courage slipped a bit….looking at the sophisticated and physically fit male and female runners in track suits and sport shoes! Our nauwari saree clad and barefooted Lata looked as odd as one could look. Even the sponsors were surprised to see this rural woman pleading them to allow her to participate in the race. They registered her name for the race after hearing her story.
The race began! Lata, among all marathon runners, started off like a flash! The motivation of earning 5000 rupees was more than enough for speeding up. This 65 year old village woman in her kachcha sari ran as if her life depended on it. The race was over…..Lata finished the race in the first position!
The news of an old lady running marathon barefooted in 9 yards saree and winning first position made rounds on Mainstream Media as well as Social Media. Her story of battle to save her ailing husband went viral all over. The help started pouring in. Apart from 5000 Rs cash prize that was used for MRI test, she got donations for the further treatment of her husband which cost 15000 rupees. Lata has won the Marathon title for three consecutive years now. Marathon has never been looked before as a source to solve financial problems! Inspired by her story of struggle, a movie is being made on her too!
Indian women are always known of such strength of character. There are lakhs of Latas out there who fight the toughest situations and stand tall against all odds. Here I would like to appeal all my friends to advise the less privileged citizens to open Jan Dhan Account and avail free Insurance cover for Rs 2 Lakh. When making both ends meet is challenging, such Insurance protection might ease the unexpected burden of health issues. It would have been a completely different scenario for our Lata if she had the comfort of Insurance cover for her husband’s treatment. Well, the story of Lata Kare reminds me of Savitri who fought with the Messengers of Death to retrieve life into her dead husband, Satyavaan.
This is woman empowerment. The strong fighting spirit of Indian women has made them shine in various fields….our women politicians like Sushma Swaraj and Nirmala Sitaraman, lady scientists of ISRO, our Women Cricket Team, our lady Olympians and Para-Olympians, Business Tycoons like Chandra Kochchar and Indra Nooyi….they all make us beam with pride. But when an ordinary woman of India creates such history as Lata Kare, our hearts swell with pride. Kudos to woman power!
Jyothi Suparna Chincholi