Having got his first daughter married, Appa’s mind now turned to other equally important matters. He was due to retire from Salgaocars in a year or so. At that time, Vijaya and Vatsala were studying MBBS. Bhargavi was in her 12th Standard. I was in 4th Std and Komala was in 1st Std.
|Amma and Bhargavi in our Surla house|
|Surla house: Komala (centre) and same pattern dress girl at your right - me|
So, in anticipation of his retirement, Appa decided there had to be some alternative source of income, and Sudarshan Stores was set up in a rented place near the central square called Tisca (located near Usgaon).
We still lived at Surla; Appa had arranged two boys to man the shop in his absence, and he would go there after work. Being free after her 12th Std. exams, Bhargavi started going to the shop – Appa would drop her in the morning, she’d eat lunch from the tiffin box that Amma had packed, and she would come back with Appa at night.
Then, something happened.
One guy used to be hanging around and would keep staring at Bhargavi. He tried to talk to her. One day, he sent the ice-cream man to give some ice-cream to her. Bhargavi promptly reported this incident and there was no second thought – the daughter had to be protected. It was decided that Bhargavi wouldn’t stay alone in the shop in Appa’s absence.
But someone had to be there to supervise the two boys in the shop.
Amma stepped in and efficiently took over.
She had to leave home at 8 am with Appa. She would finish cooking breakfast and lunch, pack lunch for herself, and leave. She would come back by 8 pm, wash her feet, and get started in the kitchen, preparing dinner for everyone. In typical Amma style, although her routine underwent a drastic change, she didn’t let it affect our routines in any way!
The woman, who wouldn’t come out to serve snacks to Appa’s male colleagues or friends, now had to deal with suppliers, customers and the unruly and unpredictable chap who owned the shop premises!
After Appa retired from Salgaocars, we had to vacate the Surla quarters. Unable to find a new house that matched our requirements and budget, yet another tough decision was made. We would live in the small portion inside the shop. Look at the sketch below.
|Sudarshan Stores at Tisca - and our home for few months|
Noticed something? Besides the fact that it’s so congested, I mean. Right – there’s no toilet there.
So, we rented another place close by – maybe a 5-minute walk from the shop. It was a tiny house where we stocked our furniture and belongings that wouldn’t fit into our living quarters behind the shop. The bigger advantage – this house came with access to a toilet which was outside the house, and to be shared with another family – but at least it was there.
Today, when we think back to those times, it seems like we went through such hardships. We, who had lived in the palatial bungalow of a Manager in Surla (and even before), were crammed into a tiny space, and having to walk 5 minutes for ablutions, and draw water from the well because there was no piped water there.
But at that time, I don’t remember feeling upset or angry at what was definitely a comedown. I think the credit goes to the ease with which Amma accepted the new situation, and just got on with it, as usual, doing the best she could, without cribbing about anything. And this quality we imbibed is what keeps us all ticking till today, even in the most unpredictable situations.