Peeping into an Exemplary Social Life of a Local Chief
Days roll in months and years; and, years in decades. It was a hard day of September 06, 1980 for not only village of Kanodar but for the people of distant areas who knew the Late with his popular name ‘Vajir-kaka’(kaka=uncle). About three decades have passed to demise of Honorable Mr. Vajirbhai Rajabhai Polra (Dawawala), but the deep wounds of his missing in the hearts of the people are not yet healed. I, the author of this post, have been in close contact with him and I have witnessed many more occasions of his life. I have somewhere written in my previous post that I had always been the friend of old hand people at my very young age and I was lucky enough that they all had, in reciprocate, accepted me as their nearest one in spite of much more age differences among us.
I am here with this post on V-kaka with my only aim to pass on the message of the Late’s missionary life to native young generation that has obviously born after 1980 and might not perhaps be knowing who ‘Vajirkaka’ was. When I am setting my finger tips in motion on keyboard of my computer to write something about V-kaka, it does not mean that nobody else has not contributed to build the image of this village of Kanodar and its community. Like V-kaka, they people have also done their great and their services cannot be evaluated accurately and justly even in number of volumes. Every human being is bound to live a double life. Let me clarify here that I have used the word ‘double’, not ‘dual’ in my statement. My learned Readers will easily understand that I am talking about human’s personal and social life. More a person cares for social life rather than personal one, more he or she advances towards greatness and becomes a local, national or global hero..
I shall take a short survey of V-kaka’s personal life later on at convenient space in order to co-relate it with his social life; but meanwhile, let us have an idea in brief how he dealt with people for their various problems as a social worker. He spent hours and hours of the day just like operating an office helping people to solve their psychological problems of depression and worries, health related issues with moral support and physical presence, if need be, in cases of major surgeries to be done at Palanpur or anywhere and many more financial and social issues of individuals. He was always compassionate while in conversation with people. His direction, counseling and advice had vital importance for those people who would have no way otherwise for bettering their situations. V-kaka was the only hope for those disheartened people who were confused, scared, and beset by problems. He tried his best to uplift those poor fellows with no any kind of discrimination. He motivated youngsters also for such work of value he did. He used to say that when people are in need of any help, the capable persons should come forward and give it to them if they consider themselves the part of the human kind. Many NGOs aimed to such causes of humanity recruit trained and paid social workers. Vajirkaka was a one-man institution himself with no any training but with natural own intuition, not paid but paying from his pocket itself in spite of his own financial position very critical and full of struggle
V-kaka was born in 1915 at Bombay in the family of a Cloth Merchant of Muslim native of Kanodar having his firm in Balram Street at Grant Road. They had own automobile and a driver was employed also. He could study up to Grade-IV with English in Marathi medium. Due to one or the other reason, the situation took diversion and the days of miseries started. His father’s untimely death compelled him to leave studies and join a private job. Subsequently, he lost the shelter of his uncle also and in addition, he had to bear the responsibilities of two younger cousin brother and sister. As being financially hard pressed, he had to prefer returning back to Kanodar. While coming over here, first work he did was to sell out own residential house along with furniture and he paid out all his dues at his will though nobody was on hard line to pay it off.
He occupied a house on rent and started a new life with his wife – Avaliben and dependents in an economical condition such as the sky above and earth below. He migrated to Ahmedabad and did a job in ‘Sandesh’, a Daily News Paper as a Proof Reader with salary of Rs.12/- per month for 13 years. The owner, Sheth Nandlal Chunilal Bodiwala treated all members of staff as his family members. Later on he continued his indirect services to ‘Sandesh’ as a Positive Journalist and Agent for 37 years He was so caring and social at his very young age that he became just like a family member of his colleague Mr. Govindlal Trivedi who was the father of seven daughters without a son. V-kaka performed all his social duties by giving his shoulder of assistance to him and now the relations of both the families even in third generation are ever green and fresh. Govindlal and himself were the birds of same feathers as V-kaka also had seven daughters and two sons (Alimohmad, the eldest had died suffering from Leukemia at very young age).
Like the Hero of Thomas Hardy’s English novel “The Return of Native”, V-kaka returned and settled here in his home-town Kanodar in 1943 where he started a small shop of bidi-cagarettes, betel leaves, cutlery and stationery with support of his neighbor Karim-kaka Hasanwala in way of having a rent-free shop along with cash of Rs. 5/- for the initial working capital which had great value in those days when a British copper coin of a Pie (1/192 unit of a rupee) was in operation of exchange in currency. Everybody’s wheel of fortune moves up and down, nothing is steady. V-kaka’s advancement took him to an unknown and dream-like field of medicine. The same shop, then, converted to a Medical Store. A seedling of a plant sown by him has grown to a widely spread banyan tree now-a-days.
As being in pressure to maintain the size of the Article, I leave aside many more inspiring episodes of his personal life. Now onwards, I am going to talk about his some more social services. He had never been active or involved in politics directly or indirectly. He was purely a social worker with all merits one should have. Local Trust Hospital which was established in 1923 was itself sick. V-kaka’s great efforts of collecting funds, appointing Dr. H. L. Purohit – a devoted doctor of ethics who rendered his services for 33 years and his getting in touch with the day-to-day necessities of the doctor and Hospital made the unit full-fledged and progressive for health-care of the people of Kanodar and surrounding villages. V-kaka himself had to live in a rented small house with big family for decades, but he didn’t care for that as his priority was the development of Hospital and Hospital only.
We all around see that minds of some money hungry people are always active and they try to find out various sources of earning money whether legally or illegally. Our V-kaka’s mind was always busy to find out various means of helping the people in need. He maintained the stock of seasonal fruits and especially Sweet – Lime (Mosambi), a kind of citrus fruit for patients at his home. In those days fruits were not available in villages. Providing fruits to patients free of cost may come under the category of his local service, but he had found out one more surprising source of being helpful to strangers passing by the newly built single track Highway near Kanodar. He maintained the buffer stock of 5 gallons of Petrol as there were no any Gas Stations initially on Highway. He offered necessary petrol free of cost so that the vehicle owner in trouble may drive at least to Palanpur, a neighboring city. Sometimes some passers-by traveling with family were offered this service with insistent condition that they would have to pay visit first to his house to have some breakfast with tea or coffee and then proceed further.
V-kaka’s some services to General Public can’t be forgotten. He maintained good relations with Transport Authorities to start new bus routes. They, immediately, started new buses on trial base for one month on his request. V-kaka contacted the conductor of new route or bus, gave him some ad-hoc money from his pocket to issue the rest tickets to meet with the minimum criteria. He was sure that within a month people would know and the particular route bus will automatically be converted to a scheduled one. With his positive journalism in public interest, he could bring Electricity in 1965 and subsequently Telephone Exchange also in 1973. He developed good personal relations with Dwarkadas Mehta, the Regional Manager of Dena Bank and its Branch was started in 1970.
There is some old saying that behind every success of a man, there could only be a woman. V-kaka could successfully fulfill his missions and ideals of his life with backing or tolerance of his wife and family members. Avalikaki as an ideal house-keeping wife and in spite of being illiterate also inspired all daughters to have education and 6 out of 7 became teachers. V-kaka was my nearer uncle-in-law and I always maintained certain limits in conversation with him. But, I exactly remember a day when he confessed before me that he had done great injustice to his family. He said, “My madness or craze, whatever you call it, for the good of the people is somewhat extreme. Isn’t it?” I had to say ‘No, not at all! You have obliged your family members to become co-sharer of your good deeds’. Our talk had ended there, but I had seen in his eyes some feelings of gratitude that whatever he could do had been possible with the sacrifices of Avalikaki and the rest family members only.
Now, it is the time to sum up my Post with a short note that V-kaka’s both personal and social lives are really exemplary, not limited to local people, but globally also. Voltaire, a French Philosopher and a man of Letters has said, “I know of no great men except those who have rendered great services to the human race.” V-kaka remained in debt up to his ears throughout his life for the cause of humanity, but with business support of his son – Miyanjibhai from 1970, he was totally free from debt in 1979 just before one year to his demise. Mysteries of the Creator are beyond the understandings of humans. V-kaka was tested by Him throughout his life and how merciful He is that at long last he favored him with his blessings and it truly proved in his life that ‘All’s well that ends well’.
Let us pray to the Lord of the two worlds, here and hereafter, to favor the souls of both Vajirkaka and Avalikaki (died on 03-03-2003) to remain in proximity of His blessed ones in heaven.
Hopefully this post might especially be commented by those who knew Vajirkaka personally with any experiences they might have with him.
With warm regards,
– Valibhai Musa
Tags: British, community, conductor, Conversation, Counseling, Creator, Depression, double, dual, fortune, French, generation, Heaven, Hospital, intuition, Journalism, Kanodar, Leukemia, life, Medical, NGO, Pie, Sandesh, Social, Social Worker, Thomas Hardy, tolerance, Voltaire
April 27, 2009 at 1:55 pm
I thank you very much for writing an Article on my Pappa. I have gone through it and I am surprised to know that you have mentioned many more events of his life which were not in our knowledge. You were very near and dear to him that I know. You have covered most of the matters of my father’s life in your Article. With the grace of Almighty Creator, we have been walking on his footprints and, in future also, we will try our level best to do such works of humanity with which the souls of my father and mother might enjoy the pleasure in heaven.
May 10, 2009 at 11:56 pm
Thanks a lot for writing article on my late Grand father and mother(Nana and Nani). I know they were great personalities and I really feel proud of having such a wonderful persons as my grandparents. Really, I appreciate your efforts in writing such events which we had not heard and you have mentioned in your article. We are also trying to follow their footprints.
Congratulations for your achievements in blogging.
May 11, 2009 at 11:13 pm
Really a Salute to this Great Personality-‘Vajirkaka'(Dawawala), my Grand Father(Nana) for his devoted life. At the time of his demise in September,1980, I was out of Kanodar and I had heard about the crowd gathered in his Funeral Procession and I perfectly remember what I had felt that I missed the occasion to attend it.This had proven that how people of surrounding area loved him for his kind of works for others during the life. Congratulations! on writing the article like this to inspire others too by taking some useful tips for the life.
Munishali M Polara
May 13, 2009 at 9:33 am
Thank you very much for focusing on my Beloved Late Grandfather’s life. I was just 4 years old when he passed away; I still remember that day when I asked my mother where is Dada(Grandfather) and she replied with tears in her eyes “He has gone out and will get back soon” , he never came back. I was too young to understand what had happened at that time. But now, I realize what I have lost 28 years ago. I was fortunate enough to know my grandmother very well. I have known my grandfather from my grandmother, father and patients who came to medical store. Even though so many years have passed, people talk about him as if he has expired just few years ago. He is my Idol. I am proud to be known by his name and trying my best to do even one percent of what he has done in his life.
My family and I appreciate the time and effort you have put into writing this article.
May 20, 2009 at 8:06 am
Dear Valibhai, Only to-day, I went through this very touching and inspiring article on your blog. I had honor to have a good acquaintance with late Vajirkaka as Miyanjibhai was my classmate and friend. Let me narrate one incident here. I was at Ahmedabad in 1969 for the deptt. training feeling homesickness. Incidentally V.kaka met me, sat beside me, caressed me on the back and encouraged me.(I still feel his warm affectionate touch );and lastly he asked me if I needed any money. He was nothing but humble humanity personified. Thanks for such a loving and befitting tribute to a local hero for the new generation. With regards. K.V.Hada.
October 29, 2021 at 11:41 pm
Thank you for sharing such an inspiring life story of my nana, it is really helpful for our generation and upcoming generation to know this local hero and learn from his life. We are very proud to be grand children of Vajirbhai and Avliben Davawala. Thank you for your time and efforts and appreciate your inspiring work.