Rita was yet to be born. Her parents, Prabha Devi and Prabhat Kumar were migrant labour from Bihar, working at a construction site in Delhi. Along with seven more laborers, were sleeping on the pavements of Delhi when a speeding SUV driven by an inebriated youth mowed them down.
General apathy prevailed, as the maimed and wounded were shifted to a government hospital by rickety ambulances moving at a snail’s pace, negotiating the snarling traffic jams of Delhi.
The labourers suffered grievous injuries and chances of survival were extremely bleak as they were attended to by junior doctors amidst the typical bureaucratic maze which surrounds such hit and run cases; where those occupying coveted positions in the higher echelons swamp the flotsam and jetsam of society.
Prabha Devi was wheeled into the labour room where she delivered a baby girl. The mother, who suffered extensive injuries in the accident was in a near comatose state for several days. While the lives of her husband Prabhat Kumar and her compatriots from Munger were snuffed out, the resolute Prabha Devi survived this traumatic period of her life.
Prabha Devi the only survivor, lost her limbs and was compelled to walk on prosthetic limbs. A nun from the Missionary of Charity, performing God’s work at the hospital proved to be her salvation, as the nun followed the tenets as postulated by Saint Teressa.
When abandoned by family and society, Sister Philomena of the Missionary of Charity stepped in to provide succour to mother and child. The baby girl was baptised and christened Rita and the duo were housed in the nunnery.
Sister Philomena attempted to rejuvenate the ebbing spirits of Prabha Devi who also began taking baby steps alongside her infant daughter, slowly getting accustomed to the use of prosthetic limbs. Slowly but surely this made the saturnine Prabha Devi more sanguine as she began working in various rehabilitation projects to keep her distraught mind occupied and earn a respectable living.
Sister Philomena was to say, ‘A woman is more than an adult human female. She provides a name to the family, leaves her paternal home and builds a new family. She puts on weight during pregnancy and undergoes the pangs of birth while delivering a child. For a period of nine months, her womb is the address of a new life which would arrive on planet earth.’
The nun continued, ‘As a girl grows up to become a resolute woman, she learns how to cook, attend to various household chores, looks after her parents and in-laws and rears her children. She also earns a livelihood and performs the balancing act between the family she was born into and the family she moved to. One day her family and in-laws would realise her potential and clamour for her attention.’
Under the tutelage of Sister Philomena, Prabha Devi learnt the 3Rs and went on to write her life story and was soon published in various magazines. She was feted by journalists and invited to talk shows by estimable television channels. From the shadows of anonymity, Praha Devi, once a scarred body and broken spirit became a beacon of hope and an inspiration for several mentally and physically distraught women.
Prabha Devis’s parents, in-laws and the extended family, all made a beeline to the nunnery. But by now the resolute woman had set up her own shelter for women, which provided for prostitutes, addicts, the infirm and abandoned women and young girls who would have been battered and bartered by an insensitive society. She aptly called it ‘Prabhat – The Day Break.’
‘The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides. A beautiful woman delights the eye; a wise woman, the understanding; a pure one, the soul’- Wikipedia