Abandoned by everyone including her children, the widow of former union minister and socialist stalwart Ravindra Varma is now leading a quiet life in a destitute home near Thiruvananthapuram
Born in an influential political family which was close to Mahatma Gandhi, Mangala Varma is confined to a single room of ‘Happy Home’, an old age home in Neyyattinkara, a small town 20 kms south of the Kerala capital.
Fellow inmates say the 82-year old never flaunts her identity or cries over her fate, but takes everything in her stride.
“I have no ill will against anyone. But I really feel I could have been in a better ,” she says.
Mangala married Ravindra Varma, who hailed from a royal family in Kerala, at the age of 17. She gave birth to two children, but after 20 years together Varma got married again.
After Varma’s death in 2006 she took part in his funeral and stayed some years with her son in Delhi, while her elder son lived in Germany.
“I tried to stay with my son for some time. But I was forced to come back to Kerala. Since Ihad worked at a private school I don't get a pension. My husband’s freedom fighter's pension and MP pension goes to his second wife. So without anywhere to go, I finally ended up here,” she says.
Mangala Varma is a great lover of books and her only regret is that no publisher came to publish her autobiography titled “Bleeding Heart, Wet Memories”. The book is an account of the early days after Independence, and her life with Varma, who was the union labour minister in Morarji Desai's cabinet.
She is an avid fan of Maneka Gandhi and likes to spend her time caring for stray dogs and cats.
Her outlook towards life is admired by others at the destitute home. “She is a bold woman. Knowing her past well we give her extra care and consideration,” says VKN Panicker, head of the Elders Welfare Association, which runs the old age home.