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MY SPACE – Meethaneem Baba ka Dargah

By

Kerala Varma

Nagpur city is a melting pot of several cultures from the tribal
background of Gonds, Nizam’s Subedars, Bhonsales, the British, and neo
Budhists and now the seat of Hindu arm of political awakening propounded by
late Golwalkar and his followers. The city with its Zero milestone is in
more than several ways the center of India and its population of over 15
lakhs represent every community in the country. Meethaneem Baba ka Dargah
in the lunar month of Mohurram attract all kinds of people in the winter

By

Kerala Varma

Nagpur city is a melting pot of several cultures from the tribal
background of Gonds, Nizam’s Subedars, Bhonsales, the British, and neo
Budhists and now the seat of Hindu arm of political awakening propounded by
late Golwalkar and his followers. The city with its Zero milestone is in
more than several ways the center of India and its population of over 15
lakhs represent every community in the country. Meethaneem Baba ka Dargah
in the lunar month of Mohurram attract all kinds of people in the winter
nights singing the Sufi music and the piligrims in search of spiritual
favors. During day time the Dargah is inconspicuous with small thatched
tents and pan thelas and the very poor seeking alms from the passersby to
the main thoroughfare skirting the winter assembly building, the RBI
building on one side and the Museum (known as Ajaibghar) and a school run
by the Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan on the other. We, myself and my wife lived
nearby in a rented block of rooms in the first floor of a building in the
Museum road. My wife was on the lookout for a household help to sweep the
rooms, wash utensils and clothes of daily wear. (191)

My wife located Manjubai an old weather beaten woman roaming around
the tents near the Dargah and ventured to ask whether she would work for
her. And the woman readily agreed without haggling for her wages or hours
of work because she did not work anywhere else and perhaps nobody ever
thought of offering her one in her condition of abject helplessness or she
dared not ask anyone for help? It transpired later she lived in the tent of
one Alam because he knew Aleem her youngest daughter’s husband.
Manjubai’s family in the Indora Chowk anyway did not want her and by
cleaning Alam’s tent he allowed her to remain and the offerings of food
by the visitors to the Dargah ensured Manjubai did not starve. (126)

Even when we moved to our own flat nearby Manjubai continued to work
for us. She would walk all the way from the Dargah to our flat in the Civil
Lines and stayed all day long until evening before dark to Alma’s tent
because she had nowhere else to go and no one waited for her to return
anyway. Her people in old age had abandoned her as she was another mouth to
be fed and she survived thanks to the Dargah where in any case the hopeless
can always go in need of solace to the body or the soul. When she fell ill
she did not report for work. In the evening we took Manjubai, as she wished
to meet her people in Indora chowk. Manjubai never sought Dargah’s solace
again. (133)

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