I must tell you about a Marathi book I recently read. Its ‘Ek Hoti Baay’ by Suren Apte. (Originally ‘Bai of Hatonde’ in English, translated in Marathi by Vinaya Khadpekar for Rajhans Prakashan.)
‘Baay’, a beautiful teenager Jew girl living in village Hatonde near Pen in Maharashtra, goes to Mumbai with intention to earn some money for her poor family. The book tells the story of her struggle in Mumbai in different fields like Nursing, Stage and Cinema and more particularly about her different lifestyle.
In the extremely conservative Maharashtra she openly makes affairs with different people, raises her son (that is the Author of the book) without getting married and keeps a couple of male companions in her house after the death of her husband. While doing this she doesn’t forget to help her family and other needy people. She thinks differently and wherever she goes and whatever she does, she succeeds.
She is supposed to be the pioneer in the field of maternity homes in Mumbai. As far as Marathi stage is concerned, she has worked with K.Narayan Kale, Keshaorao Datye and Jyotsna Bhole in the historical ‘Andhalyanchi Shala’. Under the name ‘Vijaya Devi’ she has also played the leading role of Maharani Yesubai in Dadasaheb Torne’s Marathi film ‘Chhatrapati Sambhaji in 1934. Big shots like V.Shantaram, Master Vinayak, Bhalji Pendharkar, Raja Nene, Vishram Bedekar, Junnarkar etc. had offered her different roles in different Marathi and Hindi Movies like ‘Ramshastri’ ‘Pahili Mangalagaur’ ‘Apna Desh’ etc. Meanwhile she had married with a popular stunt film director Baburao Apte who died within 3 years of their marriage. However, she did all her best to enable her sons to get good education.
Atlast her relatives decided to move to Israel but Baay refused to leave Maharashtra.
Her objective was to transform herself into a respected Hindu Brahmin and she was succeeded in that too. However, she didn’t think it necessary to leave her Jewish religion. Reason is obviously that it all was immaterial to her and she was really a free woman by birth.
On web, you may find her just by quoting ‘Sudha Apte’ in the google search engine.
However, to know her better reading the book is inevitable.