A life lived for the community

Till 1994, Kishore was one of those forgotten people who have to struggle to get the minimum necessities in life, and undergo humiliation and abuse from the rich and powerful who have everything in life handed to them on a platter.

An illegitimate son to a tamasha dancer (tamasha being a performing folk art in Maharashtra famous for its dancers who sing 'laavni' raunchy songs), Kishore was born into the Kolhati community. It is a community that survives on tamasha shows and where the girls are groomed to become dancers. The men live on the earnings and generally turn to alcohol.

Kishore wanted more from life. After somehow convincing his family, he went to school. The authorities wanted to know his father's name so that they could admit him. After a lot of persuasion and delay, Kishore was allowed to use his mother Shantabai's name as his middle name.

The poverty, superstition, alcoholism and illiteracy that he grew up around gave him the drive to study medicine so that he could do his bit for society in general and his community in particular. With help from his aunt Madhu Kambikar, a Marathi film actress, he enrolled in Grant Medical College, Mumbai, for his MBBS. He was teased and insulted endlessly by more 'civilised' children who wanted to know where his father was and what his mother did.

After completing his MBBS, Kishore wrote his autobiography Kolhatyache Por (child of a Kolhati) in 1994, which became a turning point in his life. His family and community ostracised him for portraying them in a bad light. Community leaders said that he was a blot on the community as he had defamed them and their traditional way of life.

The book shook the Marathi literary world with its straightforward narrative and naked revelations. He later wrote a sequel and several other books, but his main passion was to uplift his community and reach out to those who were deprived tribals, prostitutes, dalits, AIDS patients and so on. He was impressed with the life of Albert Shweitzer, a German doctor who worked with missionary zeal in Africa.

... contd.

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