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SHORT STORY: Lata Bhagvan Kare … the marathon runner


    This is a real life story of a sixty-five year old lady, Lata Bhagvan Kare, a resident of a small village in Buldhama district, in Maharashra. She was leading a simple life with her husband. They both worked as farm labour and barely made enough to make ends meet. They had a small house near the farmland where they used to live.

    The small savings that they had accumulated all throughout their lives was spent on getting their three daughters married off. Apart from their daughters they also had a son. After the daughters were settled their responsibilities were practically over. They enjoyed the simple pleasures of life and of course each other’s company. They were inseparable and understood each other comprehensively. Their relationship was a proof of the principle that you did not need luxury to be happy.

    One day after returning from the farm, her husband told her that he was not feeling well. First she tried all sorts of herbal medicines to help him, but he wouldn’t get better. The local government hospital, diagnosed him of some serious infection. They recommended he be taken to a bigger hospital that had better facilities for further tests. This bewildered Lata. They barely had enough money for the fare to reach the hospital, let alone the expensive tests prescribed by the doctors. With tearful eyes, she told her husband the news and felt helpless. But then how could she let her husband die without treatment.

    She dropped her ego and pulled together all her courage to beg her neighbours and relatives for donations to go to a bigger hospital in order to save her husband’s life. With the donations she had received they finally got to bigger hospital. This was not the sort of place that they were used to, being in. They felt very uncomfortable and out of place. Nevertheless, Lata gathered courage, to ask for a doctor. The official at the reception desk collected an initial fee. With that they had exhausted almost a major chunk of money that Lata was carrying. They were asked to wait outside the doctor’s cabin until they were called.

    When their turn came, her husband was called in. after examination, the doctor handed her a list for further tests, some medicines and the recommendation for hospitalization. With these developments Lata went into a tizzy. She had no money and nowhere to go. How do I save my husband she thought? With tears flowing down her cheeks, she and her husband slowly walked out of the hospital.

    She couldn’t have afforded the expensive hospital canteen, so they stopped by a samosa stall at the bus stand. They bought two samosas for the journey back to their village. Lata thought this could perhaps be her husband’s last meal. The samosa-wallah wrapped the samosa and handed it to her with a smile. As she ate her samosa and chutney from the newspaper wrapper, she saw the headline: ‘Baramati Marathon: Attractive Prize Money.’ Her heart missed a beat. The next moment she was preparing to run the race.

    The next day as everyone lined up at the start of the race, in their running gear, Lata Kare stood there, in her red-checked Maharashtrian-style sari. Barefoot, with tears in her eyes. She argued with the organisers, to allow her to run in the marathon, but they refused. She was sixty five. In trying to save her husband, they did not want her to die. After about an hour of begging and pleading, they finally agreed to let her run, and pinned a number on her clothes. As she began running, people turned to look at her and laughed.

    It was a sight for sore eyes. Teenagers and young adults who had been practicing for months, for this race, lined up, next to an old lady who had hitched her sari above her ankles. She had never run a race in her life, what to say of a marathon. Little did her competitors know that they were about to get schooled by someone who was old enough to be their grandmother. Lata could not think of anything else, but for the love she had for her husband. This race was a matter of life and death for her. What were a few pebbles and rocks to stop her progress?

    Lata, finally ran and ran like the wind with just one focus—the finish line. Her feet began to bleed, her sari became soaked in sweat, but she kept running and running. It would have been an achievement had she even finished the race. But she had aimed much higher. The people who witnessed this spectacle cheered her all along the way. They were touched by her reason for running.

    It would be a pointless story if she did not win. For there was no award for mere participation, yet she had done it! The organizers of the race could not believe that Lata Kare a sixty-five-year-old Maharashtrian woman from a small village, had won the race. The crowds on the streets of Baramati clapped for her and celebrated her victory. She was now the local hero, but she did not care for the attention.

    She collected her winnings, marched into the hospital and got her husband the best treatment. At the same time she even got a few bandages done on her feet. She had achieved her mission and that was to save her husband. As they say, the most powerful force in the world is love. Lata went on to win for the next two years consecutively.

Moral of the story: If you have determination and confidence nothing is impossible.

Posted by Kamlesh Tripathi




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