I always tell Mamatha that I admire her for her courage, conviction, dedication to the cause of women and children and for being what she is. She is another extraordinary human being. Her stubbornness makes her that much more special and human. There was an article about me and SVYM in Taranga, a leading Kannada magazine sometime in 1992. Mamatha was a lecturer at an engineering college in Sullya (D.Kannada) and she got to read it. She was so inspired by it that she packed her bags and decided to join us.
Her reaching our place was an adventure in itself. She had neither an address nor knew how interior was our location. She just took a bus from Mysore to Kote and asked people at the Hand Post how to get to Hosahalli. Some kind soul sent her out to another Hosahalli very far away from where we were! Evening was fast approaching and she was now getting worried and anxious. She was back at Handpost and looking around for transportation to bring her to our center. Thankfully, the local Government hospital’s ambulance was waiting at Hand Post and was transporting patients after their sterilization surgeries. The kind-hearted personnel told her that they knew of a new hospital at Kenchanahalli and that people there could guide her on where SVYM was located. It must have been around 6 pm or so when she reached Kenchanahalli. She found Seetharam, Vivek, Shailendra, Sridevi and Bindu playing cricket outside the hospital and approached them hesitatingly. She asked for me and was told that I had gone to Bangalore and would be back that night. She said she would be more than happy to be shown a small room where she could stay for the night. Only then did she realize that this hospital was also part of our project and that I would be coming back to Kenchanahalli.
I had gone with P.Anil to take delivery of our new pick-up van and it was quite late when we arrived. As soon as the others saw the new vehicle, they started inspecting it as if it was a new toy. Mamatha was quite puzzled looking at grown ups admiring this vehicle so much! I am sure she must have felt quite let down that we were not the serious doctors that she thought we would be. The next day she told me all about herself. I was quite apprehensive on how she would cope in a place like ours. She was the first woman who planned to join us full time. I told her that she could stay at Hosahalli (where our tribal school is located) and try out for the next 3 months. If things worked out and both of us were mutually comfortable, she could then stay on. I had asked her to oversee the school to begin with.
What started as a 3 month stint has now become a life’s passion for Mamatha. She laid the foundations for our tribal school. It also gave her a cause to build on. Mamatha is now a member of the Karnataka State Child Rights Commission and her commitment has grown from the 100 children that she started out with to thousands across the State.
Mamatha and Vivek will always hold a special place in my heart. The days we spent together under such difficult circumstances will always be something that I cherish. More of this later.