My grandmother, Bhabani Mahato's fight for our freedoms began with the fight to liberate her desh [country] from the angrez [British]. We finally achieved the desired freedom. Since then my thhakuma Bhabani Mahato (seated in the centre in the photo above) has been exercising her hard-earned democratic right. (Seated on her right is her sister, Urmila Mahato and on her left is her grandson, Partha Sarathi Mahato.)

Even the 2024 General Election has not been an exception for her. She is nearly 106 years old, her health is fragile, but she is in full spirit when it comes to her right to vote. She is able to see and hear quite well, however, her hands are not strong enough. So she asked me to help her out. Our village, Chepua in Manbazar I block in Puruliya (also spelt Purulia) district of West Bengal, votes on 25th May. But under the Election Commission's Home Voting provision for senior citizens above 85 years, she voted today (May 18, 2024) at her home in Chepua.

With necessary approval from the polling officers, I assisted her with the process. As soon as the polling party left, she started reminiscing about the old days.She began with how things were during the British rule and gradually moved forward to present day and ended her story.

Hearing this story I once again felt very proud of my thhakuma [paternal grandmother].

To read more about the revolutionary Bhabani Mahato, read P. Sainath's, When Bhabani Mahato fed the revolution .

Cover photo courtesy Pranab Kumar Mahato.

Partha Sarathi Mahato

Partha Sarathi Mahato is a teacher in West Bengal's Puruliya district.

Other stories by Partha Sarathi Mahato
Translator : Smita Khator

Smita Khator is the Chief Translations Editor, PARIBhasha, the Indian languages programme of People's Archive of Rural India, (PARI). Translation, language and archives have been her areas of work. She writes on women's issues and labour.

Other stories by Smita Khator