Pure, lucid, lilting, heart-felt.
This is sheer mother-worship spoken from a child-like innocent man. Sane Guruji, a freedom–seeker on Gandhian principles reminisces on his childhood in Palgad and Dapoli (modern time rural Konkan). It explores the world of little Shyam and his mother Yashoda, through short but searing real-life snippets.
The protagonist, Shyam’s mother is the universal mother taking care of her children and household. Her USP is her simplicity, her profound wisdom, her fierce streak of self-esteem, her struggle to compensate her 5 children by instilling values for what they missed out in terms of wealth.
Sample this: 1] Little Shyam steals money from a guest to buy books for his further education. When his mother learns of it, she doesn’t give elaborate lectures. Just a stunning burning truth, ‘Your first few lessons stated that stealing is a sin. If you have still not learnt those well, what makes you think you are qualified for the next level?‘. Oh btw, she does give him brownie points for owning up to his crime.
2. Shyam’s swimming classes- The timid boy tries his hardest to hide and bunk classes. His mother, though, has no intentions of mollycoddling his cowardice. She hunts him down, whacks him into submission(none of that spare-the-rod nonsense) and makes sure he learns swimming. Her love was not meek and did not encourage meekness.
3. Her Somvati fast, a ritual requiring her to offer 108 pieces of offering to God. She does not use their abject poverty as an excuse to fail in her offering. She offers 108 colored stones and explains to an embarrassed Shyam: God loves everything he has created. He would especially appreciate her offering; would suck on these sweetmeats for years together without exhausting his supply.
Her simple rejection of untouchability as a mask for inhumanity, her caring attitude towards wounded birds, dying cows and to her personal favorite cat; her subtle lessons on brotherly love; I could just go on and on.
her life, unfortunately , spirals downward from opulence to bankruptcy, from a bungalow to a hut, from losing her children to poverty, to plague, to smallpox. What she never loses is her dignity and values.
Don’t miss this one. Every single incident is a gem. It cannot but leave you stirred to the core.
Additional stars for the detailed descriptions of rural life; the recipes for delicious ancient dishes like Pangi , Patole and Shrikhand-wadi. Note: For the connoisseurs, Pangi is available as a specialty at Swati Snack center, Tardeo, Mumbai. Enjoy! The film based on the book also won a National Award.