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Pradeep Pattanayak

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers... The real essence of the aforementioned line penned by famous writer Rudyard Kipling makes an instant impact on those whoever makes a visit to the house of D Subhalaxmi in Jeypore block of Koraput district.

As the world celebrates Mother’s Day, it is a perfect time to cherish all those great souls like D Subhalaxmi who walk on this mortal world to shower undying love, dedication and devotion to their children. 

Subhalaxmi, in the dusk of her life at the age of 90, lives with her family in a small decrepit house with asbestos roof. Inside her house, her 95-year-old bed-ridden husband is lying in a corner. 

On the cot, the lone furniture in the house, lying his paralytic elder son who has been suffering from paralysis for the last 10 years. The tragedies that visited her family have their clear marks on this wizened mother. Yet she stood against them and still goes on discharging her duties without complaining even for a day. 

While women of her age are spending time with their grandchildren and having their husband, sons and daughters-in-law taking care of them, Subhalaxmi’s day starts with nursing her husband and elder son. 

Starting from cleaning their excrement, helping them do their daily chores, to preparing food for them, feeding them and making beds for them are all in a day’s work for this wizened woman. 

Subhalaxmi says she has been doing all these works believing as if God was taking a test of her. She also says she has never ever felt sad for the life she is living. “Rather it gives me immense pleasure,” admits Subhalaxmi. 

“Whatever I am doing is for my husband and son. I will keep doing it till my last breath,” she says. Like any other woman, the nonagenarian had too waved dreams around her family when she was married off. Her husband used to earn livelihood by farming. 

As time passed by, they were blessed with three sons and three daughters and their happiness knew no bounds. She was then totally unaware of what the future had in store for her. Subsequently, her husband found it difficult to work on his farmland due to old age. Even then her life was on an even keel. 

As luck would have it, the unspeakable tragedy struck the family as it lost its eldest son to cancer. Then paralysis stuck their second son. However, the saving grace is that she has married off her daughters. 

Her third son, D Sudhir Kumar is working as a daily wage earner and his earning hardly enough to keep the pot boiling at home. “I am fortunate enough to have her as my mother. I can’t even think what would become of us after her death,” says Sudhir, all the while looking at his mother. 

Subhalaxmi reminds us of Cardinal Mermillod’s line, ‘A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take’.

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