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With a prayer on her lips & a song in her heart, she pays her father’s bills

In the last four years, Maruti Sakhare has visited various hospitals in Solapur and Pune to help his only son walk again but in vain.

Written by Anuradha Mascarenhas | Pune |
August 13, 2016 12:11:24 am
Sapna Sakhare, Balasaheb, Maruti Sakhare, Pune news, india news Sapna Sakhare with mother Satyabhama and grandfather Maruti.

At 10, Sapna Sakhare stopped playing marbles and grew up fast. After a near fatal fall from an electricity pole 25-foot-high, Sapna’s father, Balasaheb, has a broken spine. He is bedridden and has sores on his body.

Sapna’s melodious voice, which was the talk of Parewadi village in Solapur, soon became her family’s lifeline as the little girl donned the garb of a ‘keertankar’ singing praises of Saints Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram every week at villages across Maharashtra, making a samll earning to meet her father’s medical expenses.

“I try as far as possible to attend school but it has been four years since my father’s accident that I have been travelling for the keertan programmes held every week or once in a fortnight at various villages in Maharashtra,” said Sapna, who is the eldest of five daughters and hails from Parewadi village, Karmala tehsil of Solapur district. Sapna’s father, Balasaheb, used to assist his 68-year-old father Maruti at their small farm but since the fall, they have had to sell most of their land and raise loans.

In the last four years, Maruti Sakhare has visited various hospitals in Solapur and Pune to help his only son walk again but in vain. “My son had decided to help a wire man at Parewadi village and instead climbed the electricity pole, came in contact with a live wire and fell from a height of 25 feet. He survived but will not walk again,” says Maruti whose wife could not bear the shock and has retreated into a shell. “Tee vedi zaali aahe, bolat nahi (she has gone mad and no longer talks to us),” says Maruti, adding he brought his son on a stretcher to Pune’s Sancheti Hospital for another medical check up.

Spine surgeon Dr Ketan Khurjekar along with team of doctors, Vivek Vincent and Ajinkya Achalare, performed several surgeries. However, Khurjekar says that Balasaheb received a traumatic injury to the mid-dorsal area of the spine and is a paraplegic. We also had to treat his bed sores, but it is unlikely he will get back to his former active life, says Khurjekar. The costs, however, have climbed to Rs 9 lakh, and for this, Maruti had to sell the farm and raise loans. “It is my granddaughter Sapna who has been the main source of income and takes care of most of the expenses,” he says, adding that with all the keertan programmes she has earned nearly a lakh in four years.

Sapna knows it is a long struggle ahead and has treated the episode with calmness unlike other children of her age. “What can I do? If I cry, my sisters will cry. My grandmother no longer responds to us. As for my mother, she is so caught up looking after my bedridden father and other sisters, I have to be strong,” says Sapna.

Sapna, along with another sister, Sakshi, stay at Muktai Warkari Shikshan Sanstha at Alandi- 22 kms from Pune and study at Lakshmibai Vitthalrao Durange Vidyalaya. The Warkari Sanstha trains 50 children from various parts of Maharashtra in Keertan- art of spiritual teaching through story telling. Warkari Keertan was pioneered by Saint Namdev and Sapna also trains with Raghunath Khandalkar at the Dnyandev Sangeet Vidyalaya in Pune.
“She has a beautiful voice,” says Khandalkar who gifted a harmonium to his student and wants to groom her for singing competitions. “She comes from a very poor family but even at her age, she is already earning to meet medical expenses,” says Khandalkar. For Sapna, who is now used to missing school for a major part of the year and instead sing religious abhangs and devotional songs, stand for two – three hours for each weekly keertan. She ends her spiritual endeavour each time with a message like ‘stop killing the girl child’ and ‘honour your parents by repaying their debt’.

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