My father's death in my 9th year
Sankuba, my father's mother, used to help my father in his farming. She was very brave and hard working. She had a strong physique and hence could work a lot, diverting water to the field and sometimes even draw water with huge leather bucket as though it were a child's play. She was illiterate but her faith in God was evident in her life. In her later years, she had become more devout.
I knew from my mother that I used to have stomach trouble as a child. I had a very sharp memory by the time I was seven or eight years old. In those days, there was a devout man in our village who used to teach village boys how to perform ‘Sandhya’. His name was Ramtashankar. It was from him that I also learnt performing ‘Sandhya' as well as the recitation of ‘Shivmahimna stotra' and ‘Rudri'. Thereafter, it became my routine to go to the Shiva's temple and perform ‘Sandhya'.
The beginning of my ninth year turned out to be revolutionary. It marked its presence with a bang of new events that shook my life. It also bought with it many new messages and a whole new direction. I started my ninth year on the twelfth day of the bright half of the lunar month of ‘Shravana' and in the following month, ‘Bhadrapad', my father had a severe attack of small-pox. The heat of small-pox subsided within his body and as a result, he passed away that very month. His untimely demise at a young age dipped our family in terrible grief. The shadow of grief cast its spell on our relatives as well as in our village. Village people grieved over his death, remembering his good nature and magnanimity.
Inscrutable are the ways of destiny. Who can solve its mystery? One has to take solace believing that whatever happens, it happens for our good. There is no other way but to continue our journey in this world. After my father’s death, God intended a new arrangement for my future. My mother had two brothers. Her elder brother Ramatashankar was serving as a cook of a rich family at Chowpatty in Bombay. Close by his place, there was an orphanage. He proposed to admit me there. He tried for it and I was granted admission there. In those days, going to Bombay was like going overseas today and moreover, education was not considered a priority. Village people did not like the idea but my family stood by the decision and I sat out for Bombay. At that time, I was studying in the fourth standard.