Meet Colaba’s patchwork man: Hosi Daruwala

Meet Colaba’s patchwork man: Hosi Daruwala, who has dedicated his life to stitching up old rags from tailor shops into quilts for needy cancer patients.

Seated in a chair at the head of a rickety old sewing machine, Mr. Hosi Daruwala matches its battle-weariness with some of his own. At 71, he is a small, shriveled man who looks tiny even under layers of sweaters and thermals that he wears to fight the slight monsoon chill as he stoops over his sewing machine, hard at work. Over the thermals, he wears a yellow polyester shirt and trousers fastened by a belt that is stretched until the very last hole, and then a little more. His tiny frame is a telling scar; a wound that he earned very early on in his battle with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia ; a type of blood cancer he fell prey to and lost over 30 kilos because of in a single month in 1999. This changed his life and set him on a course that helped him transform the lives of several others battling Cancer like him, and he has done it in his own unique manner. Homegrown’s Reza Noorani and Neville Sukhia spent a day with him as he went about his regular life and this is the story they unravelled.

In the 450 square feet flat where he has recently moved in, Mr Daruwala darts around his living room and pulls out files that give you an idea of the world. It is made up of photographs of patients who passed away from cancer, and every so often Mr Daruwala stops and tells us a fact or two about how the ones in the pictures fared or how they fell in their battle with the disease. He has magpie-like, hoarded up stacks of documents that fill up the two well-maintained, seventies style TV cabinets; letters of appreciation that people have sent in, help that he himself received, cheques for cancer foundations that kind folks have mailed from all around the world for (each of which is connected to a cancer story of a relative or a loved one who survived or succumbed and who came across Mr Daruwala during the course of their treatment). There are forms of more than half a dozen Cancer foundations he works with, and finally a whole bound history of his own battle with cancer in the form of test results and a bunch of other medical literature. This he shows to other cancer patients and inspire them to see that when a man as old as him could fight Cancer, it shouldn’t be all that tough for them to do so. There is also a large bundle of Xeroxed copies of home remedies to fight the side-effects of radiation and chemotherapy. In fact Mr Daruwala is big on these home remedies for which he depends a lot on his friend, who he introduces as a doctor, Dr Daraius Umrigar.

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