A Mother of Thousands
Sushila Bala Saha is a name known to many families in the Faridpur area for her selfless career as a nurse.
Thousands of babies have seen the light of the world after being delivered by Sushila's skilled hands- something she has been doing for almost half a century. She would treat the babies as though they were her own. The sounds of the crying newborns would give her great joy.
Sushila is a devoted nurse and midwife. Whenever a pregnant woman in her vicinity had an emergency, she would be called. She would rush to the aid of the mother-to-be with her wooden box of equipments. Sushila's entrance into the house would give all family members much needed relief. It was understood that she would take care of things.
She was born on 17 July, 1917 in the Baptist Mission House in a Protestant family. She is the daughter of the late Ram Chandra Das and the late Ananto Sundari Das. She was admitted to Faridpur Govt. Girls' High School and studied upto class seven. Later she completed her Matriculation as a private student. She married Narendra Nath Saha when she was very young. Just like her mother Ananto Sundari Das and grandmother Muktakeshi Das, Sushila committed herself to this very selfless job. With the approval of her husband, she went to West Bengal in India and underwent training in obstetrics at Ziaganj Hospital, Murshidabad. Returning from Murshidabad she joined as a nurse in Faridpur General Hospital. However, she left her job after a couple of months. In the mean time her husband died in 1966 leaving Sushila, four sons and three daughters. Although the family was financially solvent, the burden of taking care of everyone fell on her shoulder. She started working as a private nurse. She had to visit the homes of patients. Every day and every night Sushila had to look after the patients of her pregnant mother. She maintained a register book in her house in which the patients would write down their names and addresses. She also maintained a diary in which she recorded the names of places she was going to, so that her family could easily find her if necessary.
She never had fixed fees for her services- she was happy to accept whatever was within the means of her patients. Clearly, she wasn't doing this for the money.
She has had four sons and three daughters. They are David Dilip Saha, David Pradip Saha, David Rupak Saha, David Arup Saha, Josna Baroy, Ila Chowdhury and Shikha Chowdhury. Her eldest son David Dilip Saha, a social worker, died a couple of years ago.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Sushila Bala said, “I am happy to work as a nurse and midwife. Everybody loves me. The children I deliver are all my children in a way. Pregnant mothers still call me but now I am unable to do what I used to. I still pray for them all.”
A memory that haunts her is the time she saw a baby's body thrown in the dumpster, as if it were dead. She picked up the baby and gave it respiration and the baby started crying. She later handed to baby over to its family.
The Faridpur Notary Public Association, Racine- a local NGO, and the Faridpur Baptist Church have honoured her for her service. She can't be sure about her age, but she is probably about 92. She remembers giving flowers to Mahatma Gandhi.
(R) thedailystar.net 2009