“Daivam maanusha roopena” The God within us – Bhandaru Srinivasrao
“What is it that you dislike most in life?”
If this question is asked to my wife she will reply ‘I dislike spiders the most’
When the same question is posed to my granddaughter- pat comes her reply – “I hate lizards”
To me however, that question brings into my mind a person I had grown to hate, literally. Her name was “Somamma” and she was 60 years old when I was only 10 at that time. She is an orthodox lady with a big mouth and garish attitudes. Her husband left her with two kids and a desolate house in central Vijayawada – a town in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Even as a kid, I was terrified by Somamma’s actions and behavior. I could not bear her loud mouth. She never wore a sari covering her entire body. In the name of ‘MADI’ (a custom in orthodox Brahmin families where folks wear a wet cloth while cooking and offering prayers) she used to harass all the children by using filthy language. All this was printed in my young mind at that tender age. I used to consider her as a Brahma Raakshasi (a she-devil). Hating her came naturally to me.
Life has its funny ways to teach us and I learnt my lesson through an incident that changed my perspective on people.
As the days progressed, I grew along with her grandchildren. One day, an unexpected marriage alliance came from an affluent family for Somamma’s grandson. A huge dowry was offered and without a second thought Somamma agreed to the proposal and her grandson’s marriage was performed at short notice. Unfortunately, the newlywed girl gave birth to a child within three months of marriage – it was obvious that Somamma and her family were deceived by the offer of wealth to marry an already pregnant girl. Money talked once again and Somamma’s grandson took his wife’s side and left both Somamma and the kid at the doorstep of the hospital and left to live with his in-laws. The entire family was distraught and was in a dilemma – what should we do with the kid? Ironically, no one stepped forward and offered any solutions.
At that moment I was caught off guard with what Somamma did. Somamma, the embodiment of age old traditions and customs claimed the infant. She took the baby in her arms and provided the much needed solace. She took the child to her home and became a mother at that age to that new arrival in the world. She left everything to become everything to the child. She became a mother to the kid and nursed her. She became a father to the child and mentored her. She became a grandmother to the kid and doted her.
Seeing that transformation in her, I could not help but erase my negative perceptions on her. From an evil incarnate, she became to me an inspirational person who made clear to the World that being good is not just being nice. A good person always does the right thing irrespective of the consequence and personal sacrifice.
Today, Somamma is no more. But her reminiscences are still fresh in my mind. Whenever I recollect her greatness, I feel that some of my sins are being washed away. That is her greatness. That is the power of Humanity. “Serving hands are greater than praying lips”.
What do you say? – Bhandaru SrinivasRao (31-08-2010)