Kamla ben Trivedi, a 88-year-old Gandhian, who fought against British rule has lost to the heartlessness of her own relatives.
For many years, her family has refused to take care of her and for the past few weeks, she has been staying at the Aadhar old age home in Borivali.
Her husband, BN Trivedi, died in 1997. Since 1978 her only son, Bharat Trivedi, was working with a Bahrain-based company and lived there his wife, Anusuya, and daughter, Nandita. Kamlaben lived alone in a Malad flat that she owned.
In 2006, Bharat came to Mumbai and decided to buy a new house. He told Kamlaben to give half the money, and promised to pay the remaining amount after he got a loan from his company.
In an exclusive interview to Mumbai Mirror
, Kamlaben said, "We sold off the old flat and I trusted him when he said that the new house will be in his name as that would make the loan process easy, but got cheated in turn. The loan never happened, and I had to bear the cost of Rs 20 lakh all by myself. All my savings were exhausted.".
Things got worse in 2014, Kamlaben said, when her granddaughter and daughter-in-law started calling her up and ordering her to vacate the house; they were planning to come to Mumbai because Bharat was ill.
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"My son and daughter in law came to India only once in two years. But since February 2014, I started getting frequent calls from them," Kamlaben said. "They told me to leave the house, and threatened to make my life hell if I didn't."
Scared, she left for an old age home in Junagadh, Gujarat. Her son died in July 2014, after which Kamlaben's daughter-in-law and granddaughter sold off the Malad apartment and shifted to Pune, where Nandita works with a computer firm. They refused to let Kamlaben live with them.
As she had no local guarantor for a year, the old age home sent Kamlaben back to Mumbai. With nowhere to go, she landed up at the house of Prakash Nair, a Malad-based social worker and activist, who knew her. "I kept her in my house for three days until I found her a nice old age home where she can stay with people of her age." said Nair.
"I have met all the big leaders of the country in my young days. But owing to my family members for whom I was merely a piece of garbage that they threw, I had to give up all my valuables including my books and old photographs to libraries in the city," Kamlaben said.
Nair wrote to her granddaughter on several occasions, but was warned to not interfere in their "personal matters".
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"After several requests, they gave me a no objection certificate and told me to take any decision for her on their behalf," Nair said.
"We tried calling her family members on several occasions but they never came and gave some reason or the other," said Narendra Shah, the manager of Aadhar. "We are appalled by this behaviour of theirs towards a lady of such an intellectual stature." Kamlaben's daughter-in-law, Anusuya, denied she had abandoned her mother-in-law. "My daughter and I are living in Pune and are not in a physical and economical condition to take care of her," Anusuya Trivedi said. "She has gone to the old age home on her own; we are not to be blamed for anything."
Asked about the collection of books that Kamlaben had to give away, Anusuya said: "It is good that the books are with some library and in a safe condition."
Kamlaben is planning to register a formal police complaint with the local police station soon.