Rustling up happiness for life
By Aditi Patwardhan | JAN 2017
An anonymous author once said: “A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the bricks thrown at her.” The definition of success is relative. For many, it may mean a huge achievement academically, or professionally, while for others, it may mean little joys of life for themselves and the people around them.
I have been seeing Shalu since my childhood. She is our cook since many years. A cheerful lady in her late-forties, who loves singing, dancing and cooking (yes, in that order), it was surprising for me to know that her life has been full of disappointments.
Her father was a labourer and her mother did odd jobs to earn a living. She was forced to leave her education while in 4th grade and follow her mother to help her family. Married at 18, her husband treated her badly, and even threatened to kill her.
But that didn’t deter Shalu, who was then a mother of three girls. One day, she was found sitting behind a bush in my granny’s garden. My granny called her inside and fed her, took care of her and assured protection to Shalu and her daughters.
This was the turning point in Shalu’s life. Slowly, she started cooking as a means of earning and did well. She is quite bubbly, even dancing with us when we play music, singing old Hindi songs while rolling chapatis and cracking jokes.
Today, Shalu has her own house in Nagpur, a bicycle which she so happily rides to work, and her daughters are educated and well settled. Now, she need not even work for a living.
When I asked her why she still cooks at people’s homes, pat came the reply – “I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces after they have their food. It makes my day and there’s no bigger joy and satisfaction than seeing others happy, and being the reason behind their happiness.”
Shalu is like family to us; her problems are our problems, and her joys are ours. She has been a part of all our celebrations. She has stood by us in the most trying times, and has been like a mother to me. She believes that God has given us this life to serve others.
What we get in return is a blessing from God. I salute people like Shalu whose lives are an inspiration to keep smiling and spread happiness.
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