sulabh swatchh bharat

Tuesday, 25-June-2019


Devi’s story is not very different from other widows, but her optimistic approach towards life sure is

“Nah! Why would I want to go back when everything is good here; when I am happy here…” Yes, she is happy. It is visible from the way she talks with a spark in her eyes, the joy with which she tells about Vrindavan, the way she laughs each time she attempts speaking in Hindi and each time when someone fails to understand her Bengali accent.
It has been a decade in Vrindavan for Devi. She originally belongs to Ranaghat, Nadia district, West Bengal. Her story is not very different from her widow-inmates living with her, but her optimistic approach towards life sure is.
Devi was a 7-year-old little girl when she was married to a 10-year-old boy. It was “normal’, as Devi would laugh it off whenever someone gives a surprised look on hearing it. And with same ‘normalcy’, in course of time, she gave birth to a baby girl.
Her husband, being a farmer, would spend his entire day in the fields, and Devi would look after the daughter and the daily household chores. Money was also not much of an issue since it was a small family of three. They were keeping it low yet merry.
The daughter grew up (even so the age was still tender) and the couple started focusing on getting her married to a suitable match. The societal pressure had them well-versed that it was their core responsibility to find the best groom for their daughter and get her settled to start a family of her own.
So finally the daughter was married off with joyous celebrations.
Devi and her husband were now each other’s only support. Their already small family was smaller now. The world had somehow shrunk for them. But they remained calm and lived with a smile on their faces. A few years passed this way.
Devi’s husband with age developed severe breathing issues. It got worse with passing days and ended up becoming his killer. Gasping for breath, Devi’s husband passed away, leaving Devi behind all alone.
Devi was now solo. She had entered the colourless life of a widow. A life which is not only monochrome but also monotone. Yes, she was saddened by the demise of her husband, but Devi handled this new phase of her life without complaining – “After all what has to happen, it will happen. You have no control over it and there is no point sitting around complaining about how unfair life is.”
Time went by, Devi kept moving on with her life. Then one day, a few of her neighbours were going to Vrindavan and they asked her to accompany them on their journey. Devi had heard about Vrindavan a lot before. She was aware that a lot of widows from her area would eventually migrate over to that holy city of Radha Rani and Lord Krishna in search of peace. This generated some curiosity in her that what is it about this city that attracts so many people towards it. So she didn’t let go of this opportunity and packed her bags.
Devi left for Vrindavan with her neighbours. On reaching the holy land, she was mesmerised by its aura.
“Everything I had heard about Vrindavan was finally making sense to me. It is a serene environment here. Everybody is immersed in worshipping the Lord. Why wouldn’t one find peace here? And I could feel it. We roamed around the city for many days. I got so involved with the lifestyle here that when my companions packed up to return, I told them to go ahead without me. I decided to stay back. Forever!”
It was 10 years ago that Devi came to Vrindavan, but she says it seems like yesterday. She has been living in Sulabh International Social Service Organisation-assisted Ma Sharda Mahila Ashram for years now. Being the happy and optimistic person that she is, Devi happily sings bhajans, talks a lot with her inmates, watches television and spreads joy around.
“Once in a year I visit my daughter for a month. But I have no intentions of turning back. Life is here. Why would I want to go back when everything is good here? Lal Baba (alias of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh) is taking care of us widows like his own mothers, sisters and daughters. We are happy here and one should stay where they find happiness. And so, there is no turning back.”