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A woman of substance

A woman of substance


RK Saboo

MA, my mother, a small woman, 4’10” in height, was brought up in a village of Rajasthan. She was married to my father at the tender age of 12, as per the custom at that time. She was neither educated nor skilled, but she proved to be very wise and strong-willed.

The young couple moved from Rajasthan to West Bengal, where my father joined Birla Jute Mills Limited, Birlapur, as general manager. We were six siblings: four sisters and two brothers. We grew up under the care of Ma. In some ways, she was ahead of her time. She always favoured my sisters more than me and my brother, whether it was regarding education, hobbies or marriage.

Ma was a staunch supporter of good education and was instrumental in getting us to study in reputed schools and colleges of Calcutta. She maintained strict discipline in our diet and exercise. We always had fresh, simple, home-cooked meals. Many vegetables were grown in our home garden. The now much-talked-about Aloe vera, neem and haldi were her favourite plants, and we were treated with home-made potions. No doctor was consulted for ordinary ailments and no allopathic medicines were given.

After finishing my studies at St Xavier’s College, I joined Hind Motors in Uttarpara. It was a good training period. After marriage, my wife Usha and I shifted to Uttarpara, where Ma helped set up our home. The most important decisions in my life were taken as an entrepreneur, supported by Ma — be it leaving the job at Hind Motors and starting my own business or leaving Calcutta and settling in Chandigarh.

She extended strong support to my father in advancing his career. In later life, she gradually started to read and write in simple Hindi. She also learnt to sign her name in English and speak a bit of the language during her many trips abroad with him.

From 1958 to 1960, my father was instrumental in negotiating and establishing Hindalco aluminum plant with the Kaisers of the US. My parents stayed for four months in America, where Ma managed herself very well.

Towards the late 1960s, Ma was diagnosed with leukaemia. It was a big shock for the family. Father looked after her and travelled to many places for her treatment, including Europe. She lived for 12 years with the disease, all due to her strong willpower. In April 1980, she passed away in Calcutta.

Ma was a pillar of strength and power for our family — Matru devo bhava, as written in Taittiriya Upanishad — peaceful, protective and loving. We eternally miss Ma.

As a tribute to her, my son has named his business group Kamla Dials & Devices Limited (KDDL) and our headquarters office Kamla Centre.

It is well said that when God can’t come, he sends someone — a mother is that person.

#Rajasthan


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