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Profiles in grace and gratitude-from Dwarika to Munster
Profiles in grace and gratitude—from Dwarika to Munster

BY A STAFF WRITER

MUNSTER, IN- Dear Friends and family members, our family is blessed with your presence and numerous messages of condolence, as we bid goodbye to my father Haridas D Barai who left for his Heavenly abode to be with Lord Krishna on July 25, 2017. We were blessed that he decided to move with us in Munster, after my mother passed away in 2008. He passed the exam and became US Citizen at the age of 90.

 

As I reflect on his life of almost 95 years, I think about his legacy to us, values of life, education and a few Good Samaritans whose generosity made it possible for him and us.
He was born in a very poor family in Dwarika in the western Indian state of Guiarat. My grandparents had a tiny piece of farming land. With droughts in that part of country, there was virtually no income and my grandfather worked in a grocery shop as a helper, supporting 5 children.

My father was a top student in the High school in Dwarika and for helping the family, he used his mathematics skill to do book-keeping for the grocery shop. After graduating from the high school, he joined a science college in Baroda (renamed Vadodara), as Dwarika-Okha was part of the then Baroda State, under the Gaikwad rulers. My grandfather passed away when my father was in the second year of college.

There was nobody to support the family and my father decided to leave the college and start looking for a job to support his mother and siblings. In order to feed the children at least once a day, my grandmother gradually sold all her ornaments and went hungry herself on many days, ultimately dying of nutritional cirrhosis.

The owner of the grocery shop wanted to help out and offered to pay for his college education. But how to support the family ? Eventually, a Good-hearted Samaritan, Baba Sheth, as we called him, helped feed the family so that my father could complete his college education. My father went to Mumbai to get his graduate degree in Chemical Engineering but had no means to stay in dorms. My foi, his eldest sister, had just come to Mumbai as a refugee from Rangoon, Burma, fleeing the raging 2nd World War between the British and the Japanese. They offered him a little space in the outside gallery to study and sleep, making it possible for him to become a chemical engineer.

During this time, he got married and my mother worked hard to clean utensils as well as mill the grains (ghanti) of other households to support the family.
The family struggled a lot but he got educated. With his chemical engineering degree, he quickly found a job with Alembic Chemicals in Baroda.

There, we were blessed with another Good Samaritan, the late Shri Ramanbhai Amin, the Managing Director of Alembic Chemicals. My father worked directly under Mr Amin, who observed that my father was a hard worker, great organizer and able administrator.

He appointed him as the head of his largest department, the Printing Press, that produced all support material for the company. Many politically-strong people tried to get him removed but Mr Amin was steadfast in his support. My father retired from that position and was appointed director of the newly-formed company: Light Publications Ltd.

Talking about worth ethics, I had noticed as a little boy that my father will come home from office usually around 6.30 pm, 2 hours after the scheduled time, wrapping up his work and instructing the 2ndshift. Often, he will go back to the factory around 8 pm, after the dinner and return late or even next day morning. And he had the distinction of having never taken a day of sick leave from work.

There are many stories of his honesty, integrity and devotion to work that we learnt from his career and have guided us in our lives.

We are grateful to these and many other good people who helped our parents and grandparents during their very difficult struggle. We will emulate them to help others who are not so fortunate!

We are grateful to Dr Maniar for taking care of his Parkinsons for the past few years, and Dr Harish Shah, his cardiologist and our dear friend.

I would like to thank countless friends and family members who have pitched in supporting us in a variety of ways: Suchita Shah, Anjali Joshi, Shahnaz Keshwani, Sanjay & Sonal Shah, Sonal & Pratish Patel, Bina & Rajit Shah, and his care-givers at home: Rameshbhai and Charuben Patel. The nurses at Community Hospital provided great care during his hospitalization 2 weeks ago.

The greatest blessings will go to Panna, my best friend and life partner, who has done more than most to take care of my father for last 8 years. Our children, Sujata, Binita, Nikita and Chirag, loved Dadaji so much and all came to take care of him, not to speak of our grandchildren who always enjoyed his company, taking turns to feed him when he was able to eat a bit. My brother Jayant and his wife Uma also regularly visited him from NJ.

There is never a time to lose your parents. Even at the age of 94, he would wait in the family room sofa till I came home late night and only then go to him room to sleep. I will miss that shelter!

My eternal gratitude to my parents, who struggled so much to raise us, educate us and set an example for us. We will miss them but hope that they will continue to bless us from their heavenly abode!

 

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Update: 04-August-2017

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