Tucked away in a corner on the road that connects city bus stand and Jaganmohana Palace, a stationery shop run by an aged woman is always buzzing with activities right from the moment it opens in the morning. It could be for a copy of a newspaper, toothpaste or soaps, people from the area make a beeline to Ramadevi’s shop. Though there are many shops in the vicinity, this soft-spoken 62-year-old lady knows how to be in the reckoning. If someone says she has a special bonding with her customers, there is a reason.
At an age when she should be leading a comfortable life, Ramadevi believes in being independent. Though she is beset with problems, she always welcomes her customers with a gentle smile no matter what the situation is. This is one of the reasons why her customers always come to her. Many of her customers say she is a role model for everyone to emulate.
An epitome of sincerity and hard work, though she does not hold a degree from a reputed college, she knows the moral values of life. She also knows what it takes to be a good human being.
As the third child of a poor family, it was only hardships right from her childhood. Though she was interested in studies, her parents could not afford it due to economic constraints and she dropped out when she was in eighth standard. She got married to one Rathnakar Shenoy (40), 20 years elder to her. But the age difference did not matter for the couple. Her husband did not have any job at hand and later with the support of friends, the couple managed to set up a stationery shop opposite city bus stand.
With one daughter and two sons, Ramadevi thought life could not get any better when tragedy struck. All of a sudden, her husband took ill and was not able to even walk properly. Whatever income they were getting from the business was not enough to meet the medical expenses. “Forget paying rent, I did not even have money to buy medicine for my husband,” she says. This is when the lady thought enough is enough, I am going fight the odds.
Due to financial constraints, she was forced to shut shop for some time. A determined lady that she is, Ramadevi decided reopen the shop, about four decades back. With no support from her relatives, the lady had a tough time to take care of her sons and daughter. Her sons tried to venture into catering business but failed miserably. Though she did not have the strength, the need for money forced Ramadevi to go to the shop every day. Her day starts at 5.30 in the morning and gets over at 10.30 in the managed.
The rift between her son and daughter-in-law hurts Ramadevi a lot. “That is the way life goes,” she says rather philosophically. That she is busy most of the times, Ramadevi finds solace in her business. “My grandchildren also keep me happy,” she says with a smile
“I have faced lot of problems since my childhood. Maybe, people say life is a bed of thorns, but I feel the other way. Life is a gift from the god. We are all mortals. There is nothing much we can do. One needs to be self-reliant and pursue what he or she thinks is right. That keeps us happy.
“I may have faced lot of problems but I want to tell you, I have come across a lot of good people who have supported me to overcome problems. When my husband was ill, I had no money for medicines. Whatever I earned between 6 am and 10 am, I would use it for buying medicine. Then I would rush back home like P T Usha, the famous athlete of yesteryear, to feed my husband,” she says laughing.
What’s more interesting about this lady is her communication skills. She is comfortable speaking in Kannada, Konkani, Tamil, English, Hindi and Malayalam.
An interesting story of a woman who wants to tell people that ‘there is a way if there is a will.’