Sumantrai D. Bhatarkar

Hello world,
i am unhappy to write this piece.It is an obituary to a ‘fighter’.Please read it.

( Date of Birth 25-9-1931 Date of Death 14-7-2013)
It is very difficult for me to believe and say that Sumantrai Dayalji Bhatarkar is no more with us. He was a father figure for my family. A gentleman par excellence. Always smiling. Never dissatisfied, depressed and down in any whatsoever difficult, hard and trying moment in his life .Always content, happy and pleased with whatever God preferred for him. Neat and clean, well dressed. No double speak, no double standard any time in his life. Always lawful and law bound, very simple and straight forward in conversations and dealings. Never to go back on his words, verbal or written. His memory was amazing. He would tell his visitor exactly when he met him or her and what were the talks then they had. He had great love for numbers. He would tell the day and date of important events in his as well as India’s recent and far past. A sort of a moving encyclopedia or say a ready reckoner for anyone searching historical moments beyond 1947 and there after.

He cherished and lived very well the legacy of values imbibed from his parents, Dayalji Kasanji Bhatarkar and Gajraben Dayalji Bhatarkar. i am witness to so many incidences in his life. Few years back, i had been to a remote village, Chincholi, Taluka Rahuri, District Ahmednagar ,Maharashtra where Bhatarkars lived once and tilled the lands on lease or tenancy. After a spell of considerable years, they preferred to forego legal rights and handed over the lands to owners. Difficult to believe in these days when everyone is in the race to accrue money, benefits, possessions, properties, prestige and positions in the shortest possible time. There is a dictum prevalent today of no hold bar for ends and no one worries about means. But never so with Bhatarkars. They always heard and obeyed what the heart said, mildly or loudly. Between heart and mind, the parents and Sumantrai with his wife, late Sumitra preferred the heart. Very simple in thinking and living. To do away with desire to have more and more was not at all difficult for them. This was embodied, certified and reflected in almost all marriage invitations from their Jamindars at Chincholi, Rahuri, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra. The marriage invitations carried Sumantrai’s name with Sumitra displayed prominently with pride and respect . The names of grandparents and parents of would be bride or groom would follow Bhatarkars’ names. A very rare example of loving bond between a Gujarati tenant and a Maharashtrian owner. The practice is being followed for years and from one generation to another. Whenever i went to Chincholi, on mere mention of name of Bhatrakars, i was received with care, love and affection by his ‘family’ in far off Maharashtra. They helped me in all manners during my short stays for four years or so. Thanks to Bhatarkars. It is very difficult for me to emulate this experience here in Amri, Navsari and Surat.

Sumantrai Bhatarkar was Pramukh of Athwa Vividh Karyakari Shakari Mandli Limited for consecutive 41 years (1972 -2013).i have 54th annual report of AVKSML in front of my eyes. AVKSML has 636 members. It has approved share capital of Rs.2lacs, actual share capital of Rs.58,340/-,Reserve Fund of Rs.4,90,053/-,Menbers’ Permanent Deposit of Rs.13,15,500/-and Other Funds of Rs.59.21,730/16 P. AVKSML’s last year’s sale was of Rs.3,06,10.289/84 P. Its Audit Class for 2011-12 was ‘A’.He enjoyed confidence, love, respect and regards of all his 635 comrades at AVKSML. This phenomenon is rare especially when power crazy and position corrupt individuals spend huge amounts to win a board membership of any co-operative body. The election for the post of Chairman/Pramukh/President of such a body is so fierce that few individuals spend lacks of rupees to win! Imagine no election for 41 years! surprising indeed. That itself speaks volumes about his management abilities, impeccable character, spotless career, thrift and simplicity in all walks of life, unassuming personality and sense of brotherhood with everyone. He was AVKSML’s Pramukh till his death. His devotion to his institution is reflected in the fact that during his tenure as Pramukh for 41 years he did not attend only 3 meetings. His absence was probably due to his father’s death, his wife’s death and his own hospitalization prior to his death.

Sumantrai was also a committee member of Anavil Wadi, Gopipura. He and his family donated 3000 meters of land at Althan,Surat to SOGAYO to build a school in the name of his father Dayalji Kasanji Bhatarkar. He was Trustee of this school till his death. The school is catering to educational needs of students from economically disabled and middle class families residing in surrounding areas. It is noteworthy that no donation is accepted for admissions and the fees are very minimal.

Sumantrai loved walking to keep himself physically fit. Daily on a given time, he was to be found walking from his residence to his farm, orchard & other landed property at Althan. He protected himself from sunlight by wearing Umpires’ White Cap. He was so familiar with his cap that he was nick named as “Suman Umire”, often pronounced wrongly as “Suman Empire”. Walking for distance of four kilometers was a routine for him. This kept his heart very strong, to the extent he lived, walked, carried out his daily schedules with pink face, rosy smile with a broken heart for three days. Yes, he was diagnosed as a cardiac patient with a silent massive heart attack involving almost three walls. His ECG and ECHO report baffled me and everyone else. Apparently he was hale and hearty, even in hospital ICCU. The heart which did not succumb to the threats of goons, land mafias, politicians, crooks ,thugs , scoundrels and unlawful elements supported by builders and lawyers for nearly twenty years,at last gave way to my lack of knowledge and innumerable limitations to save an individual who was near and dear to me and who ,if allowed so,could have lived happily for another decade. .i regret a lot. He was so affable that he could not afford to say ‘no’ to Yam Raj.

i met him last on 7th of July,2013 when i sought his blessings and suggestions by showing my manuscripts in Gujarati. He witnessed me writing in English for nearly thirty years. Yes, i started my second innings of writing in Gujarati after a spell of two decades, when he was to call it a day in his innings of nearly 82 years. i can only say, please reserve a birth for me beside you ……to have a nice company there also…

3 Responses to “Sumantrai D. Bhatarkar”

  1. ketan shelat Says:

    sir,you have captured the real spirit of LATE SHRI SUMANRAI DESAI, a true fighter ,and livewire personality!

  2. Vijay Naik - USA Says:

    Beautiful and very true Bankimbhai.He was a man with such calmness and dedication which made him a humble and a like able person.His regularity and dedication to work,walk gave him a good health.It seems like he won over death too.Without much suffering and without anybody’s services he decided to pass away smoothly.In my 12 years of staying with the Bhatarkar family,I had never seen Sumantmama to talk in a high pitch or to get angry.It seems like even God needs good people like him.May his soul rest in peace.

  3. Prof.K.R.Desai Says:

    I know him since last fifty years. Sumanbhai is real gentleman. I like his simplicity. May soul rest in peace. God bless.

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