- Shoshanna Padhye
I met Bhau in 1950. His full name was Prabhakar Narayan Padhye but he was better known as Bhau Padhye and later that became his pen name. At that time he was in Ruia College studying Economics and Statistics and his professor, U. U. Bhatt had told the students, ‘You must study Trade Unions first hand. It won’t do only to read about it in books. Go out and get direct experience. See how unions function.’ Prof. U. U. Bhatt used to hold study circles for the students and had called Ashok Mehta and others to address them. That was how Bhau came and worked with us. Later he became a full timer.
Bhau completed his B.A. After graduating he even taught Maths for one year in the Sir Elly Kadoorie School in a leave vacancy. He attended university for one year, working towards his M.A. degree. He took Sanskrit for M.A. and wanted to become a teacher. But he gave up studies after one year. We got married in 1956 and he had to get a job. I was working at that time, but I earned very little. I used to get Rs. 75 per month for my work in the union.
Mine is an inter-caste marriage. Earlier, in 1931 I think, my elder sister married a Nagar Brahman. She married very young. She was not even fourteen year old at that time. My sister’s in-laws were very orthodox. If you meet her you will never guess that she was born Jewish, she has changed so much. As for me, I have not changed at all. I never put kumkum, or wore green bangles. And I have never worshipped idols. I never wore a mangalsutra. My mother-in-law used to say, ‘If you don’t want to wear it, don’t.’
We had a registered marriage. After the wedding we did not go to Bhau’s house. His mother did not even know that we were to get married that day, 13 November 1956. No one from his side was present at our wedding. Only a friend was there. Bhau stepped out of the house without saying he was going to get married that day. If he had told them he was going to marry a Jewish girl, they would have been upset and there would have been a quarrel. So, why have all that?
Bhau’s friend was a clerk in the Labour Court which was in Jacob Circle. He had a room in Matunga, opposite Aurora Cinema. When we told him that we wanted to get married but first needed to find a place to stay, he had said, ‘ Don’t worry, submit the notice of the marriage. My wife will be going to her village soon, and you can stay in my house. I will sleep outside.’ My husband bought all the things that we would require to set up a new home. My parents had given me a trunk with some clothes.
My mother came with me for the registration of my marriage. Three of my brothers also came. My eldest brother was not there, he was in Vengurla. He sent me some money as a wedding gift. My father was bedridden. My bhabhi’s father, who was a Nowgaonkar and related to Principalbai Rebecca Reuben, came from Nashik to sign as a witness. He worked with PWD.
I told my husband that I would keep the same name- Shoshanna. Shoshanna Mazgaonkar will become Shoshanna Padhye. But Shoshanna will not become Sushma or Shobahana.
My husband used to say, ‘You just be the way you are.’
My husband’s mother herself took the first step of reconciliation with Bhau and myself. Bhau and I had gone to Nashik to my uncle’s house, and she happened to be staying with her daughter and her family who were also in Nashik. She met me on the street in Nashik, and she said, ‘Shoshanna, now come to me in Mumbai, do not stay anywhere else.’
Someone from Tata Institute came to interview me once. She looked around our house and remarked, ‘There is no dev-ghar in your house, which god do you worship?’ Actually, when it is time to celebrate our festivals, I go to my brother’s house. I am there for Rosh Hashanah and the other festivals. For Diwali I used to go to my mother-in-law’s house.
Bhau was a writer. He has written some ten to twelve novels, short stories and a book on the film maker Guru Datt. He used to bring out a magazine, and contributed articles to various weeklies- Sobat, Manus.
I did not write myself. I did try, but never succeded. However, I used to give my husband a lot of material that often formed the basis of his work. I am a close observer of people. I used to visit families and take in minute details of their way of life, their home, the kind of relations they had with each other, and I would describe all this to him. He always said that I had a great understanding of human nature.
In 1989, my husband had a paralytic attack. His friends, Dilip Chitre and Bhalchandra Nemade went to Delhi and got a government pension for him. This started in 1995.
After his death, the pension should have continued in my name. I wrote to the government. They wanted proof of our marriage- a wedding photograph for one thing. We didn’t have a big wedding with a reception and all that and so there was no photograph. I went to the Old Custom House where we had registered our marriage in 1956 and finally managed to get a copy of the original marriage certificate. This I sent to Delhi. Finally three years after his death I started getting the pension. I fought and I got the pension. All my life I have fought for others, why should I not fight for myaself? Even now they send the pension to Vasai. Bhau and I used to live there. But now I have sold that house. I have sent them my current address, yet the pension goes to Vasai.
Shoshanna Padhye was born on 25 June 1925. Died in July 2005.