Life is indeed beautiful. But for Gajanan Ukhalkar or “Chhotu Uncle” as I fondly call him, this beauty has come after a continuous fight for survival. After facing a critical paralytic attack, a railway accident and a severe heart stroke, today at 50 years of age, he has the strength to be the best employee of Bank Of India, Nagpur module.
Chhotu uncle was the first child to my grand father Shantaram from his second marriage. He says his only ideals have been his Baba and his illiterate step mother “Mothi Aai”. “I learnt a big lesson about life from my mothi aai – never compromise with the pains in life. Even being an illiterate, she coped up bravely with her husband’s second marriage. When I came to permanently live at her home, she loved me unconditionally and raised me as her own child. That made me realize the true potential of compassion and love” quotes Chhotu uncle candidly. While working in Bhandara as an employee of the Bank of India, he suffered an attack of infective polyneumatics which made his entire body paralytic. But following Mothi Aai’s foot steps he fought hard to come out victorious from the despair. But this victory was short lived.
When he was going to Shegaon from Akola on Feb 25 1995, he met with a railway accident where he lost his left leg and right hand. It was a big blow this time and future seemed dark. But due to shear fighter spirit and inner strength, he could recover fast enough to join back his job within five months of the accident. Incredible it may seem but within just 6-7 years, he won the Best Employee award from Nagpur division. The most miraculous part of his recovery was that within just two months of his accident, he trained himself to write with his left hand with an exceptionally beautiful handwriting. Now he is even capable of typing an entire mail with his only hand.
The third time, destiny tested him again when he suffered a heart attack at the age of 45. But continuing his quest with the destiny, he underwent an angioplasty and worked hard to bring his weight under control even if he has lots of restriction on physical exercise.
Being a devout spiritualist, he says his spirituality has been a major force in his entire battle for life. He is greatly inspired by the teachings of the Ramkrishna Mission.When today I read some of his articles on spirituality, peace, love and care, I can realize that the knowledge is not just from his reading, but from the wisdom he has accumulated from his experiences through thick and thin.
His sister in law or his Vahini sums up his life “Chhotu has been a dear younger brother to me. Whenever I look at him, I am instantly reminded of the shear strength he carries along with the love and compassion for all. May this strength be with him forever”.