I’ve often heard that those who laugh the most, are the ones who have the most to cry about – surprisingly true. And those who open their ears and heart for other’s stories are the ones who have the most hidden within.
Lata Raut – Lata Didi for most of us, Lata Ma’am and Lata aunty for some – I met her in 2005 while she was the warden of the hostel I stayed in Pune – Umaanchal. She was one whom I could instantly recognize as someone who had iron fists in velvet gloves. She would be up and about as early as any of you get out of your room. Surprisingly, her 8-year-old son would be tagging along too! She was our go-to person, always cheerful but forever stern with the hostel rules.
Her grace and tenacity awed and inspired many a girl in that hostel. I could see it came from a lot of lessons from life. She had her setbacks and her only reason to live was her son. Today, the boy’s growth and success is no surprise or coincidence but a day by day plan and prayer by the mother in her.
Lata is a graduate of 1990 and she was brought up an independent lady, working as an office assistant till she got married at the age of 24. The marriage took unpredictable turns and she found herself in an unbelievable movie plot where the husband is addicted to alcohol and gives into lying, stealing, blackmailing and finally suiciding. She saw the extremes of poverty and haplessness in the 10 years of married life followed by hibernation and depression that came with a death like this in the family.
I have summed up her plight for around a decade in just a couple of sentences here. It takes a lot more to understand how such a trauma can handicap you and the extent of will you need to come out of it.
Her son’s future pushed her to search for ways to get things going again. Thankfully, she got a lot of moral support from whoever she met those days. She applied and got in as a warden in Umaanchal in 2005. The job meant she could have her kid by her side, but she had to wake up early, manage the hostel affairs, go home, cook for her husband’s parents, come back to work, teach the kid after his school, walk home by 9 p.m. again and cook dinner for them again. It was like clockwork. I was a witness to this routine! I still remember thinking that I can count the number of times she sits down – one to eat and another to verify the hostel bills during which she used to teach the kid as well.
And, as her job target, she had managed to increase the number of inmates from 75 to 135 in a span of 6 months, while taking care of the management of the construction work.
Amidst all this chaos, she would come to me to learn English – better. Though I told her to read books, I wondered if she could ever find time to do that. But she did, I’m proud to claim that I was the one who made her read her first complete English book – Chetan Bhagat’s ‘Five Point Someone’. Likewise, she wanted her son to pick up the language and urged the inmates to communicate with him in English. The zest for life, to keep learning and keep moving forward, the restlessness for all things fine defines her.
As if her own life did not give the required complications, managing a house of approx. 250 working women was not an easy task for her. From booze parties to cat fights with men outside the gate to theft – she had seen it all! It was an age wherein households people used to say women are like porcelain, once fallen, can never be glued together. For her, it was like a whole shop of porcelain 😊
She had had her share of setbacks, but she was not the one to consider a fall a failure. She was not the one to run seeking a new destiny and get tired with the leaps in between. She had daily missions which she knew would add up to her long-term vision. Anytime I ask her about her plans, her son’s future – she never told me – let’s see. She would always say what he would do next and for that, what she needs to prepare. The words ‘by God’s will’ often followed her clearly charted out plans.
As her son grew, she found it difficult to manage him in a working women’s hostel. Most of the inmates had finished studies and time after work was for them to relax and have fun. She thought that will not help him focus on studies and sought work in Pimpri/Chinchwad College of Engineering.
Today, her son who had been raised his entire life in a lady’s hostel is in BE 4th year and has scored 69% with no complaints whatsoever from the inmates or his classmates. This may not sound quite an achievement to most of the people here. But I know, I have witnessed, it is the fruit of a tireless effort that went in every day, every minute of her life. She was a walking map for her son’s dream destination
It is very easy for us to victimize ourselves, fall, count failures and think that life has not been fair. Fact is, everybody has their share, in one way or the other. There are a lot of studies which prove that the successful people, the stars out there, share a common vibe. They have it in their subconscious mind that they can do it and they work toward their goal every single day. The differences in the stardom and heights is where you set your goals. We all have our destinations and we all have our journeys toward it, we all have the roadblocks and rollercoasters in it – some hit the brake pedal while the others hit the accelerator and therein lies all the difference!