There are some people among us who leave lasting impressions. They lead seemingly ordinary lives, but perform extraordinary acts. I am showcasing 3 such women who have inspired me no end.
Dokka Sitamma was a widow of a rich farmer Dokka Joganna. She was childless. She showered her love on poor, helpless and the hungry. She lived in Mandapeta in Andhra Pradesh. We have no exact date of her birth.
She cooked food for anyone who knocked on her door, piligrims, homeless, hungry, everyone was welcome. She told them, “I am so glad you came to join me for lunch, I was just about to sit down to eat”, sparing them the ignominy of having to beg for food. She cooked all the wonderful food herself. She never once turned away anyone, irrespective of their status or caste. That in itself is a great thing, considering the times she lived in.
She was a brahmin widow. That meant she had to live her life in obscurity. The other brahmin men ridiculed her for entertaining lower caste people. But Sitamma never cared for their opinions. She continued her selfless service relentlessly. She gained the reputation of being an “Apara Annapoorna“, the Goddess of Unlimited Food.
She inherited her husband’s farm and so she was well off. But unscrupulous persons slowly encroached her fields and cut off her income. She was illiterate and so was unable to defend herself. She was eventually left with a very small field.
This setback did not deter her from her passion of serving food to the hungry. She continued to do that for 40 years at a stretch. She never went anywhere because she felt if she went away for a vacation, a few people would go hungry.
Her lifelong wish was to visit Varanasi and die there. At the fag end of her life, she decided to do that. She just gave away her meagre belongings, hired a bullock cart to take her to Varanasi. On the way they stopped at a roadside shelter. There she overheard a desperate father trying to quieten his hungry daughter saying “We will reach Sitamma’s house in the morning, child. We can eat to our heart’s content there. Sleep now, baby”.
Sitamma was so moved, that she woke up her driver and they quickly retraced their steps in the dead of the night. Sitamma went back to her home. She begged for food from the neighbours and was ready with hot piping food for the hungry travellers when they came with a smile on her face saying “Please come, I was hoping you would join me for food today”.
Her service gained wide notice all over the country. She was invited by King Edward VII to be a part of the reception in his honour. But Sitamma refused saying that her service was for humanity and not for publicity. King Edward installed a picture of hers in the seat that she was supposed to sit in during the reception.
What a great soul she was! Apara Annapoorna herself!!
Timmakka, a resident of Gubbi, Karnataka is a great environmentalist. She took it upon herself to plant trees on the road side. Along with her husband Chikkaiah, she has planted 384 banyan trees along a 4-kilometer stretch of State highway 94 between Hulikal and Kuduru villages.
Timmakka worked as a casual labourer in a quarry. Her husband was also a casual labourer. They had no children.
Both of them used the banyan trees found in abundance in their neighbourhood and grafted several saplings from them. They started planting them along the highway passing through their village. Over years she planted in all 384 banyan trees. She planted them during monsoon season. She used to walk 4 kilometers to water the saplings with few pots at a time. She built small fences of thorny bushes around the plants to protect them from being eaten by goats and other animals. All these she did with her meagre savings. She continued this even after her husband’s death.
pic courtesy Wikipedia: The stretch of trees on the SH94 with all the trees of Timmakka.
“Saalumara” means row of trees. So Timmakka came to be known by the row of trees she planted. She has received many awards for her exemplary work.
Hats off to her!!
Arunima Sinha became the first female amputee to scale the Mount Everest in 2013.
Her story is amazing and awe-inspiring.
She is from Uttar Pradesh. She was a national volleyball player. On the fateful day of 12th Apr 2011, she took a train from Lucknow to Delhi. During the journey, a few robbers, attempted to snatch her bag and gold chain. When Arunima resisted their attempts, she was pushed out of the running train. Arunima fell on the adjacent track and another oncoming train ran over her legs. Arunima lay on the track in the night in agony. When the help finally arrived, the doctors had to amputate one of her legs below the knee to save her life.
She thought her life had come to a standstill. But Arunima was made of sterner stuff. She set impossible task for herself to climb the Mount Everest. She was inspired by the cricketer Yuvaraj Singh, who has battled cancer and bounced back.
Arunima trained hard for her climb and managed to attain the peak on 21 May 2013.
What an achievement!
She has received many awards for her feat along with Padma Shri in 2015. She has used all her prize money from various sources and is trying to open a free sports coaching school for underprivileged and disabled sports persons.
There may be many times in our lives when we feel cornered or disappointed. But when we remember such extraordinary men and women we can draw inspiration from them.