Sindhu Tai Sapkal, the 72-year-old lady who is popularly known as Mai or the Mother of Orphans, is known for nurturing over 1,400 orphaned children. She started out as a beggar on railway stations and now is the recipient of more than 750 awards. A Marathi movie, “Mi Sindhutai Sapkal” has been made on her life.
Eldr met Sindhu Tai who has literally grown by leaps and bounds and has shown everyone that love has no limits. Here are some excerpts from the interview. Watch the video to hear this inspirational lady speak.
Sindhu Tai introduced herself to us as a “beggar woman.” Her husband had disowned her at a very young age when she was pregnant. She had to deliver her child all alone and then she took to begging with her baby to survive. She used to beg at railway stations with her 10-day-old baby daughter. At that time, she had nothing.
However, Sindhu Tai had a special talent for singing. “When I used to sing devotional songs, I used to get alms,” she says. Even when she had nothing, she used to feel sorry for the other beggars who could not or did not get alms. She then used to share whatever food she had begged with the others.
“I realized that whomever I shared my food with didn’t leave me,” she says. They used to protect her and even used to sleep around her at night just so that she and her child could sleep in the middle. But she was young then, only 20, and she used to feel afraid and vulnerable at night on the platform. “I used to go to the nearby crematorium,” she says laughingly. “Many people do not come there and those who loiter would think I am a ghost and run away!”
She realized that sharing her alms with others gave her immense satisfaction. In fact, she says that feeding others made her own stomach feel full, even if she hadn’t had anything to eat. That was when she decided to care for those who had no one in their lives. Being an orphan herself, she started caring for other orphans and trying to reduce their sorrows.
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Sindhu Tai’s Brush with Depression
Sindhu Tai faced so many difficulties in her life that she contemplated suicide as well. “I thought of giving up my life 4 times,” she says. She once had a fever and was starving. “At that time, I even thought of eating stones, so hungry was I. Had I had the strength, I would have eaten them too!” she says. At the time, she thought of giving up her life out of despair.
However, her mind’s voice steadied her. “It advised me to pull on,” she said. “There are many who die, you should be the one who lived!” Hearing the voice instilled confidence in her. “I canceled dying and decided to live!” she says proudly.
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Sindhu Tai’s Daily Routine
Sindhu Tai is known for continuously traveling all over the country and abroad giving lectures. We were curious to know what her daily routine is.
“My daily routine is extremely erratic!” she exclaims. “I come home at 4 am sometimes. When can I sleep?” she asks. She sometimes sleeps for as little as 2 hours and then is up again for traveling to a new place.
She is a strict vegetarian and prefers eating homemade food. Even while traveling, she carries her own food and eats from that. Older adults, especially those who travel a lot, generally prefer a vegetarian diet as it is known for its health benefits. Sindhu Tai is no different. As the food she carries is homemade, it reduces the chance of infections and chronic ailments like diabetes and hypertension.
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Sindhu Tai’s Journey
From being a beggar, Sindhu Tai has now received innumerable awards, 4 of them from various Presidents of India. She has toured 22 countries including the famous visit to America to address the Vishwa Marathi Sahitya Sammelan. “Foreign-returned Navvari,” is a name she earned for her trips abroad. Her work is non-granted as yet, so she travels extensively giving lectures and attending programs to bring in funds.
We wanted to know the secret behind her energy to travel and do so much even at this age. “My children are waiting to be fed. That is the only force that drives me,” Sindhu Tai says humbly.
Message to Others
She strongly believes that alleviating another person’s pain will reduce your own and urges everyone to do the same. “Never think of dying. Live not only for yourself but also for others,” she signs off.
To her unflagging spirit and never-say-die attitude, Eldr raises a salute. The work of such selfless people restores our faith in humanity. We wish her luck and success in all her endeavours.
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