Deceased NCP leader R R Patil’s grieving mother remembers him as a determined man in life and in his battle against oral cancer; said he was just as passionate about his family as his constituents
“My son was a simple man, but today I am shocked to see the crowd that has gathered for a last glimpse of him,” said deceased NCP leader Raosaheb Ramrao Patil’s mother, Bhagirati (78), after the former home minister’s body was brought to his native village Anjani, about 12 km from Sangli.
R R Patil’s mother, Bhagirati (in red) waits for his last rites to be performed in Anjani village yesterday
Patil passed away at Lilavati Hospital in Mumbai on Monday, after battling oral cancer that arose due to his tobacco-chewing habit. With the news of his demise, people rushed to Anjani to wait for his body to arrive there, so they could pay their last respects to ‘Aaba’, the Marathi term for a father figure.
As a mark of respect and mourning for former Home Minister R R Patil, the Tricolour was at half-mast at the Mayor’s bungalow at Shivaji Park yesterday. Pic/Atul Kamble
“For others he was Aaba, but for me he was always my Raosaheb. I never thought that my son would become so popular in Maharashtra. He was still a child for me,” said the 78-year-old grieving mother. Yesterday, Patil’s mortal remains were taken in a procession first to Tasgaon tehsil, then to his village.
R R Patil passed away on Monday after battling oral cancer, which arose from his habit of chewing tobacco
His elder daughter, Smita (24) is a law student at Government Law College. She was seen weeping over her father’s body, crying “Pappa utha na” (Papa, please get up). But later, when the police had trouble controlling the crowd, it was she who raised her hands and requested people to stay calm.
Her younger sister, Supriya (19), who is an MBBS student, was supporting their mother and brother, Rohit (15). But it was when Patil’s body was placed on the pyre 45 minutes later that his mother crumpled in grief and had to be seated and comforted.
Bhagirati remembers him as a determined man in life and in sickness. Despite the fact that he had had to struggle a lot, he never complained about it, she said, adding further, “Even in his pain, he never told me. He fought his best, but God had a different destination in mind for him. It is unfortunate that he has left before me; such a day should not dawn for any mother.”
While he was passionate about bringing relief to people with grievances, he would always make time for his mother. “Whenever he came to Anjani, he would first touch my feet, and then, after a cup of tea, he would address the people’s grievances.
When he was here, he preferred food cooked by me. He loved eating brinjal. Even when he was not here, he would call every day to ask after my health,” Bhagirati recalled. Patil’s niece, Jyoti (19), an engineering student, said he placed great emphasis on education and morals.
“My uncle was a unique man. He loved educated people and it was his wish that we master academics. Every year, we had a family gathering in Mumbai, when he would ask us questions from our syllabus to check that we were studying hard.
He always taught us simple living and high thinking. He never gave me or any of his children pocket money, as he believed that money had to be earned.”
‘Jai and Veeru’
Patil’s personal assistant for over 30 years, P L Kamble said their bond went far beyond work, back to when both were students at N S Law College in Sangli. “Patil and I were college friends and roommates. Everyone use to call us Sholay’s Jai and Veeru. And today my Jai has left me,” he said.
Patil was keen on sports and movies, Kamble recalled, adding, “He played volleyball in college, but was also keen on kabaddi and kho-kho. He loved watching movies, and it was almost mandatory for us to watch them first-day-first-show. He especially liked Nana Patekar a lot.”
'Cared about people'
Patil deeply cared for people and their worries, said his mother Bhagirati. “The three best qualities about him were his determination, patience, and passion for helping others.
He considered their issues as his. He would spend the entire day thinking of ways to resolve the problems.” Even as he lay in the hospital, Patil was anxious about the problems in Tasgaon, his PA recalled.
“Last week, I had visited Patil at Lilavati Hospital, and he asked about water cut issues in Tasgaon and directed me to discuss it with the collector and chief executive officer. He made me promise that I would follow his principles and check on the grievances of people,” said Kamble.