Her birth date was surprisingly never remembered by her. Her children had no memory of their mother telling how she’d want her birthday to be celebrated. But she did glow magically every year on Lord Ram’s birthday, Ram Navmi. Savitri Devi was the name she used for herself, she remembered for herself. In her neighborhood, she was referred as “Khattar Aunty”. Khattar Aunty was everyone’s favorite. The greedy ones loved her because she was their dose of reality, the needy ones adored her for she was God’s own sent to them. The ones who wanted a mother would rush to her feet, the ones who wanted to admire beauty would simply keep glancing at her. She was the kind who didn’t care for the world, and yet lived in the world of evil.
In the pre-Independence era, she was born at a wealthy Lala’s house. The adored daughter she was, she was the teacher’s favorite as well. That time wasn’t certainly right for women to pursue higher education, but nonetheless, Savitri would proudly be termed as the Matriculate Topper of her family. While she was what some call the poem of God’s own romance with nature, she was married off to another poet and an employee in Health Sector of the Independent India. She was the dutiful wife, he was the workaholic husband, dying to make it big in his lifetime, or through his children who were subsequently born after their passionate unions. He wanted a son, she wanted a respite from those “giving away” sessions. Their thoughts weren’t necessarily same. He was aggressive as fire, for he born as the fortunate son, who became unfortunate after losing his parents in a shattering earthquake. He felt life had never been fair to him, for he was the hated ‘burden’ of his foster parents, and thus wandered from lane to lane, from one phase to another in the search of the love he deserved. Savitri was his key to that love, but as life had it, he realized it in his last days. Savitri was as calm as ocean, who’d never stop loving her husband, for she knew that beyond his merciless aggression and ruthless anger, was the one-year-old son, who was under the flour cylinder, for a day after the earthquake, shivering to look for his ‘Dada’. That son did come out, but it was quite rare, and Savitri devoured those moments in her Krishan Chand Khattar.
As life had it, they grew old together, with four children, one son who’d later grow up to be her favorite, and three daughters who were her heartbeats. She wasn’t the 1960s mother, who wouldn’t stop her daughters from pursuing higher education and work before marriage. Maybe, it was the poverty that Savitri and Krishan had faced together that didn’t stop their daughters to work, or pursue higher education, for as her daughters proudly said, “Our parents, no matter how much they curbed themselves, had never really curbed us. Of course, like any other middle-class family, we had economic restraints, but that never stopped us from having fun with our parents. They were the reason we knew we had to study much and work beyond the normal so that our parents could have the pleasures they deserved, and our coming generations won’t have to suffer as much as we apparently thought we did.”
Krishan passed away in 2013. Savitri was the one who carried their proud legacy. As hard it could be, she saw her son, whom she had got her married to a girl in the distant family itself go through marital troubles, where she’d be accused of domestic torture and attacks on her son’s self-respect, and yet she glowed every day, for God himself bestowed his grace on her. She was just 10th pass in the 21st century, but she was the epitome of knowledge, pragmatic and not delusional, to survive in the world. Oh, how much she had merged herself with Him, that there was a different kind of radiance, a smile so bewitching, eyes so soulful, like they sang a song, a song of losing herself to Him, every time in her religious gathering! She saw her oldest grand-daughter fight through the complicated pregnancy, that either marked her end or as she was taught to believe, the egg’s end, give birth to a handsome boy. She saw her family grew from blood to love. The bond that she had inspired in her children was the kind of bond she knew Krishan would have wished to have the same with his lost family as well. As Lord Ram had it, she was the definition of the Maryada he was known for. The life may have been hard on her, but she had returned its hardness with her softness.