A CENTURION SADHVI. PHOOL JANKIE
Photo : Phool Jankie
My name is Phool.
A single flower.
I have 100 years.
Dey ask me how ah feel bout plenty people coming to see me on meh bott-day (November 25th 1917) as if I not accustom having meh house full ah people.
Meh Nana was Mahadeo Sadhu. He was a big man. He come from Punjab and today still in St Mary's in ah lil mandir he de bill, it ha de sword and Granth Sahab. Meh Nana was a Sikh and he never eat meat in he life.
Meh fadda name was Ganesha and he too born in India, in Mathura an come as a lil baby wid he sister and married meh modda Soogie. Nana de bill ah house fuh dem rite next to he own in Moruga dey. Ah was bout three years wen meh mother passed away. I din no she but ah always say is better a child doh born at all dan ha to live without mother.
Ah long for ah modder til de day I get meh own chirren. Me and dem chirren puppa wok we liver string out to mine we twelve chirren. An we had was to mind next chirren to but ah never mind dat. Ah never want no child to ketch ass like me and meh sister Jassodra. We ah play we suffer nah.
Boh meh Nana was a good man and he try he best to keep we safe.
He was a strict vegetarian and every night de people was toh come to read and sing Ramayan by we house. I had was to keep the place clean. Ah sweep, den ah lepay the place and pick flowers to char-ha-way. Ah never get ah minute to rest.
Daytime come and ah had was to go wid de wokman dem in the forest. Wen night come we gone back to bun coal.
Alyuh chirren today cyar imagine dem kinda life. Wen de night get cole and jumbie bud bawling an wen yuh jes jes kech a sleep ah explosion make yuh jump up high. We had was to run quick quick and tro tree branch and dutt to cover the pit back.
Ah had was to lef de blazing fire toh run and full buket by buket ah water from de ravine toh put out de fire. Den wen de log and dem bunn out, it tun to coal. Long time was coal dey using for everythin.
Dem men and dem was to bag up de coal and tote it by the roadside and fo-day morning wen de donkey cart passing dey use to carry the coal to sell in Princes Town. In dem dase dey used to call the place the Mission.
Meh sister Jassod, she two years bigger dan me. She get married and gone to live in Debe. I tell Nana doh look fuh no boy fuh me. Nana de well like me and meh sister, eh. Well one day, Sadakalli, ah ole Muslim man come and ask Nana fuh me to married. Meh chirren puppa de see me wen he de come by eh sister. She de name Dollia and she de living rite over de road by we house.
Meh fadda-in la de come from Juanpur and he was ah sadhu too. So we marrid and ah gone to live in dis same house wey ah living now.
(120 Mandingo Road in Princes Town).
Nana de buy ah blue dress fuh me to marrid. It had rhinestone and ah had it put away till meh big daughter dem wear it out. Ah come here in ah car. Dat time din ha plenty car and ting. It de have only one. Bhownath Maharaj was to drive it and so he de like meh chirren father.
Yuh shudda see dis place wen ah marrid and come here. Ah had three bredda-in-law and dem boys aint know bout cleaning and ting boh wot break meh heart was how wen ah cook dey was toh come and sit rong meh and ah had was to feed dem.
Ah start to wok and in no time at all, dis place turn like a lil heven.
Dem boys din ha modder jes like me an dem treat me like a modder.
Ah had was to care fuh dem wen dey get de typhoid fever. Oh God, dat was a time in meh life, eh.
Ah had was to kerry meh two chirren by Nana an walk from St Mary's to de hospital in de Mission an sometime ah kech de bus toh come back. Ah use toh leave a bottle ah porrige fuh de small child and beg meh bougie to feed de chile boh wen ah reach back big night the bottle de rite wey ah leff it and meh chirren starvin.
Den wen the chirren puppa start to get better he bredda one by one take in. He de feelin better wen one ah he bredda dead and wen he hear dat he get a relapse. Two ah de breddas dead. De chirren fadda and me son come out de hospital and ah take care ah dem while ah mind de cattle and plant all rong de house and see bout de cane land to.
If yuh de see dem boy dem wen dey come out de hospital eh. Dem was looking jes like walking skeleton. I had was to mine dem till dey ga back strong.
Too much trouble in dem days.
In meh lil piece ah house, ah keep it clean and me too, was a strict vegetarian. Ah never go near meat or fish or eggs self and all meh family know this and respect me for it. The chirren fadda stop all eh meat eating and drinking rum and he too tun sadhu long long time before he pass away.
We was to wok hard. We had cattle, cane and lagoon to plant rice. De chirren fadder never siddon like some odder man. He gone forest and cut tree and build de biggest house in we village and we was to have people come and stay wid we. Is how we live long time an how ah grow up wid meh Nana.
Takechand Baba was the chirren fadda godfadda. He was toh come and stay here. And wen he come all the people all aroung was to leave dey wok and come. Dey go siddon like a bhagwat and talk hole hole day and night till Baba go. He was to live Los Lomas.
Ah de make meh house jes like Nana had he house; a place wey sadhus, pundits and other people from India and odder far far place was to come.
We arganize Ramayan jag. We was de foss people to ha jag down here eh, an dat was long, long time since de chirren little and some ah dem ah born yet.
Ah teach meh chirren how to live and by God grace all ah dem dey awrite.
Nowadays, ah does need halp to walk. Ah get sick. Wen ah walk ah lil bit so ah does blow. Ah ha toh ha de inhaler all de time. Ah miss having ah house full ah people and ah does wait fuh meh chirren to come one by one to see me. Ah still love meh flowers too bad. Ah used to buy plants and meh yard was full ah all kin ah flowers boh we bill up ah shed rong de mandir and de plants doh come so good any more. Ah doh go St Mary's any more. Ah doh like to see dat place at all at all.
Wey ah need in meh life now. Like God forget meh. In meh dream, ah don gone Ayodha an in de forest to see Sewarie. Hanooman carry meh and ah see de hole woll. Now ah dey. Ah never hot no body feelin and if by chance ah do it ah does pray God fuh forgiveness.
God bless all ah alyou who does come to see me. If ah was well ah wodda cook some good food for alyou. Boh meh son Karan and Jassod daughter Tara and dem well cook so alyou come and enjoy alyou self.
Dis is life.
What she means to me : Ariti Jankie
Ma has been a picture of serenity in my mind, living a clean life with a sense of purity and dignity.
Mahadeo Sadhu may have been an ordinary man but not to Ma. He was royalty and she walked in his footsteps giving her children a sense of pride in their heritage.
My father never raised his voice at her and in my perfect childhood I never heard them quarrel.
The other children, grandchildren and great grand have their own thoughts of Ma and come Noveber 25th when she becomes a Centurion Sadhvi, they would be here to speak words of thankfulness to her as Jairaj Singh takes the lead in a concert held in her honour.
(Sadhvi is a woman who has renounced worldy possessions and chose to focus on spirituality. The name for a man who has chosen this life is called a sadhu.) Compiled by Ariti Jankie Jagirdar.