by Elouise Hahn
At the age of 16 Tara was forced to marry a 25-year-old man. After having two children she left her husband after becoming tired of his infidelity. She moved into her parents’home with her two children and worked as a cook and a cleaner to earn money. Over the years her children grew up, built lives of their own and refused to let their mother live in their small homes. They lost touch. As a devout Hindu she worked in a temple cleaning the floors, until one day she fell over and broke her leg. In excruciating pain she dragged herself to the local government NRS hospital in Kolkata, where her leg was fixed after the staff took pity on her. This was to become her home for eight long years, lying on a metal trolley in one of the aisles. A place where her leg was fixed and her heart broken. I was asked by Sanghita to collect Tara from this over-crowded hospital. I remember hugging her and seeing little tiny cockroaches running up and down her arms and across her stained white and green sari draping over her skeletal frame. Underneath the trolley was a bucket she used as a toilet. What a brave woman she was to not giving up –to have continued the fight to live –even when her entire world crumbled down around her. Tara’s story bears heart-breaking resemblance to the millions of abandoned women around India –however, in this case there was hope through the vital work of FOKE. For the next few years Tara was given a home by FOKE at Charunibash.
For the last two years Tara was moved to Bhalobasha for constant medical supervision. The cataract operation was not of much use to her as she deteriorated day by day due to old age. On Valentine’s Day 14th February 2017, she passed away peacefully in Vidyasagar Hospital. We were very fond of her sense of humour and fighting spirit.