Sunday, February 22, 2015

My Parents Fought a Bigger Fight

My Parents Fought a Bigger Fight

My father, Khemchand Parmar born approx in 1921 in a weaver family of village Bhatariya of backward taluka Viramgam. My grandfather was a farmer with 80 bighas of land. The family of 4 sons and 3 daughters was comparatively rich enjoying good food (eating ghee every day was considered richness those days) and attending all social customs.

My grandfather was were healthy used to travel overnight by foot to Ahmedabad (55 kms). An insect bite in a visit to Ahmedabad in 1929, developed into gangrene, took away his life in 1930. He passed away at 45 years age when my father was only 9 years old.

My father didn't have school education. He lived with Bua in a nearby village for 3 years, but the water didn't suit him. He returned and finally came to Ahmedabad in 1934. How to start with? He purchased a brush and polish and took the first customer for boot polish at Ahmedabad Railway Station. And suddenly his cousin Lavji saw him. Lavji fired him for doing low category work. He didn't look at that work thereafter. He was illiterate and in teen age, therefore was not able to find a job. He spent 2-3 years in wondering and at the end, joined Calico mill in 1937 as a textile worker in spinning department. With the savings of mill salary (it was 2-3 rs a month those days, he got married in 1940. He took a room in a chawl on rent, changed the textile mill and started a married life. My mother Punjiben grand daughter of a Spiritual Guru, studied upto 5th Std, started adjusting with city slum environment. She also joined the mill as worker. Life was getting on track. My mother delivered first baby boy but born died. The second Jivan survived. My father celebrated the event with a party. But the happiness didn't last long. The mill closed in 1944. My parents went into severe poverty. 4 sons and 2 daughters born and died in that deadly decade. My mother had only one saree to wear and the same to wear again after washing in nights. My father started working in a fire wood shop. He was cutting fire woods and my mother was transporting as head load to the customers. My mother also started a tea stall. Eldest Jivanbhai stopped education in 5th std and joined hands with my mother in selling tea to mill workers. They fought the battle jointly.

Sun rose for them in August 1954. The textile mill started. My father joined it and won the election as workers representative. He became Member of Majoor Mahajan Sangh. Kanubhai born in November brought more happiness to the family.

Being a representative, my father was supposed to read and write. My mother took his adult education class daily and made him literate so that he was able to perform his roll effectively. He did very well and from 1954 to 1984, he won all elections and secured highest votes to became a member of first Joint Management Council of the mill. Jivanbhai joined mill with him in 1961 and Kanubhai joined mill in 1971. I born in July 1960 and my youngest sister in March 1966.

Being the youngest brother and due to academic excellence, I was allowed to study. However, I played supportive roll helping them in their work from the childhood. I started earning small amount by working with my mother from the age 7. I was stitching with hands, the used empty cement bags, 200-300 a day when was in high school. We had many ups and downs. Following Gandhian principles and generosity (giving money to the people in need) of my father the treasury remained always tight. The salary was very low. I remember, when he retired due to textile mills crisis in 1984, his monthly salary was Rs. 750/month.

After 11th (Higher Maths and Science), I wished to study science stream and wanted to became Engineer but due to harsh words of my eldest brother for non availability of money for education, I opted for Commerce. As you know, I was studying and serving in Sachivalaya, secured Distinction in graduation. Statistics for me was like a cat walk. Later I topped GPSC, joined Sachivalaya as Section Officer; passed BSRB for PO, passed UPSC for IRS (1984) and GPSC (Cl-1) and finally joined IAS in 1985. The cost of my passing all these exams was only the postal order of exam fees!

When I was joining LBSNAA as IAS, the days were not happy for the family. Their mill closed and my officer's salary stopped. My batch mates knew, how happy we were when received the first cash of Rs. 1600 in Mussoorie in October 1985.

My achievement is tiny in front of the Giant Fight against poverty by my Parents.

Long live your names my Dearest Parents. Amar Raho.

Yours truly,

10 August 2014

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