Neither did she make it to any history book, nor was she felicitated with any award. But in a life spanning 95 years, Ghansoli-based freedom fighter, Charusheela, scripted an inspiring story of courage and conviction.
Charusheela died on January 23, but last July she signed a will, asserting to donate her body for medical research at MGM Hospital in Kalamboli.
“She is, by far, the oldest patients to have voluntarily donated her body for medical research and dissection to our hospital,” said Dr Dashrath Haribhau Pimple, assistant professor, anatomy department, MGM Hospital, Kalamboli. “Her deed will help our students learn about old age-related abnormalities, which were so far taught only theoretically,” claimed Pimple.
Recounting Charusheela’s contribution to the freedom movement, Akanksha Gupta, 26, her youngest granddaughter, said, “At the age of four, dadi attended her first ever All India Congress meeting in 1920, which marked the beginning of her fight for independence.” She added that Charusheela was closely associated with Mahatma Gandhi and his ideologies. “Dadi told us about how as a rebellious teenager, she discarded her ‘foreign frock’ into the bonfire to support the ‘swadeshi movement’, moving Gandhiji, who covered her with his shawl,” recounted Gupta.
Post-independence, Charusheela became a Congress MLA from Muzaffarnagar in Uttar Pradesh.
Garima Bansal, 41, who attended to Charusheela in her last days said, “She never used her surname and only added the prefix ‘Srimati’, after she married professor Sheetal Patil because she condemned patriarchy,” she added.
With age, Charusheela’s health deteriorated. “In 2006, she suffered a paralytic stroke, and was bedridden for a month. But in no time, she started taking baby steps, abandoning the wheelchair,” claimed Bansal.