My ancestral house in Shivala is just 15 minutes away from the ghats of river Ganga. I use to fetch fresh water fishes from the fishermen pretty early in the morning. Let me give you a trivia about the nomenclature of ghats of Varanasi, every mohallas (a kind of a subdivision) colonies which are adjacent to ghats or temples, the ghats are named either on those mohallas/colonies or any famous temples situated near it. In my example, it is named on my mohalla Shivala which is an adjacent mohalls to that ghat so the ghat is named upon the mohalla and is famously known as the Shivala ghat.
Coming back, whenever I reach to take fresh fishes, I quite often see a woman sitting in a corner silently. Her physical condition too did not looked well. She might have been rejected by her family or she might be amongst those pilgrims who lost their way or had been deliberately leaved behind by her family members.
I am sorry to write that this is one of the darkest facts associated with this city. Nobody cares about them although there are NGOs who are working in this area but they too show their activeness in those cases which are only highlighted by media and from where they could get some traction of people and government bodies so that they could raise some easy money.
She did not talk to anybody and she was totally on the mercy of the peoples who some time gives her food. One such morning, when I get to the ghat to fetch some fishes, I found her lying unconscious. First I thought that she might have been dead, but on asking to my fishermen he told me that she had fainted from hunger. I contacted a NGO that afternoon from my office and I placed my concern about that woman and also requested them that if she could be shifted to a vridha ashram. I also told them I am agreed to bear the initial charges of shifting her. They told me that they would contact me.
But after 2-3 days I didn't get any information from them. So, I took a half day from my office and I physically appeared their and put my request in front of the nodal-officer of that NGO. They started describing me about the technicalities and hurdles behind providing her any sort of asylum. This was enough for me to understand that they do not have any eagerness in helping her. So, I decided to provide her food on regular basis which on earlier, I was doing it on irregular basis.
I gather food that left overnight and ever morning when I reach to the ghat, I gave it to her. I was unable to provide her fresh food since I do not know to make it and also until now I had kept this entire incident in secret from my mother as I thought that she would be angry hearing all this. But one morning, I was caught in the act. My mother asked me that from whom I was carrying all that stuffs with me. Then I told her the entire reason behind carrying food by me. I was surprised when my mother told me that from now onwards she would be managing her.
That morning my mother made some fresh food for her and we went to the place where she used to sit. My mother gave the food to her and asked her name. She did not reply but her eyes were full of tears and unexplainable pain.
Returning home my mother said that we have a small empty room in our ground floor and it would be suitable for her and when she would get out from her mental traumatic condition we would try to hand her over to family. I thank my mother for understanding my feelings and helping her. But when my mother asked her to go with her, she refused. But my mother continues to provide her food and sometimes clothes as well.
This continues for 2 long years. We started calling her ghat wali mausi (mausi means mother's sister). My mother often talked about her and my mother had got success in knowing that from where she was belonged to. Actually, she was from west Bengal and her family had left her alone by drugging in a dharmashala (it is kind of a building devoted to religious or charitable purposes, especially a rest house for travelers) and had ran away. My mother said that she didn't want to go there anymore.
But one afternoon my mother called me when I was in the office that the maid hasn't found her when she had sent her with lunch. I got disturbed hearing that. On returning home, I questioned people about her but nobody gave me a proper answer.
I told my mother that I would go and search in the morning. That night somewhere around 9:00pm, I was sitting at my balcony (it is a platform projecting from the wall of a building, supported by columns or console brackets, and enclosed with a balustrade, usually above the ground floor) and was preparing a report which I had to present in front of the management next day, suddenly, I saw that woman standing in front of our gate. I shouted and told my mother that ghat wali mausi has come and she is standing outside our gate. I reach a bit earlier to the gate as compared to my mother and opened it. I was shocked to see that there was no one. I looked going around but I didn't found anyone.
Next morning, when I asked the local fishermen about that woman I freeze to hear that she had committed suicide by breaking and chewing glasses somewhere around 11:30am.
I came back home slowly and told everything to my mother. She started crying for her. We didn't able to know the reasons behind her death. But I think that she had shown her self up for just to thank my mother.