These days, I find myself doing quite a bit of domestic work at home. Not that I am complaining.. more on that in another post. One of my activities includes going to the local flour mill. Our visits to the flour mill have increased ever since we switched to natural and bio-degradable alternatives for washing hair - a mixture of soapy nuts(Reetha in Hindi/Antwaal in Kannada), Shikakai and various dals. I have also finally managed to convince my mom to switch to a similar mixture for dishwashing too. And that is what took me to the flour mill today - to get a mixture of soapy nuts, shikakai and dried orange/lemon peels done. As usual, the 83-old owner of the flour mill greeted me with his one-toothed smile :) I have always appreciated him for his hardwork, dedication and cheerfulness even at such a ripe age. Today, we spoke a lot more than usual. After the usual questions about the Reva, it was my turn to ask questions. Going by his nature and his age, I guessed that he should have been part of our freedom struggle, and I was right. I have always had a fascination for freedom fighters - my respect made stronger by a freedom fighter who was our neighbour who drove many community initiatives. So this old man had spent 20 days in a Bellary jail and one day in Bangalore Central jail. There was a sparkle in his eyes when he talked about being in jail.
There was more to come. When I enquired about his freedom fighter's pension, he said he had not opted for it saying the same money can be used for someone else who has probably lost a limb in the struggle for our freedom. His reasoning is that he is still capable of earning for himself and his share of the pension can be given to someone else who is in need. Before I left, I did tell him that we are also fighting a different kind of freedom struggle - a struggle to 'save the earth' for ourselves and our future. Even I said this, he threw away his plastic tea cup on the road. But, I told myself - this is a mess that we have created and it is our responsibility to solve it. They have already done their bit in the 1940s.
Back home, I happened to have one of the many heart-to-heart conversations with my grandmom. Today, she told me about how she (and many others in her generation) struggled to raise half a dozen or more kids, sometimes single handedly as the husband led a care-free life. Compare that to today's woman who has access to specialized hospitals to help deliver children and playhomes and grandparents to take care of the kids. She laughed when I told her that fathers get paternity leaves too.
At the end of the day, I felt that every generation has its saviours and strugglers who make it easier for the next generation.