How Tata Memorial Hospital was born of a Tender Love Story

Shah Jehan created the Taj Mahal in memory of his beloved wife Mumtaz. Sir Dorab Tata created the Tata Memorial Hospital in memory of his beloved Meherbai who succumbed to cancer

 

A wise old father, quietly anxious for his beloved son’s future, turned to destiny and his God to help him realize his hopes. Both came to his aid. Destiny took the father to Mysore, to the home of an old childhood friend. There he met his friend’s young daughter. The shrewd wise old man recognized the inimitable spark of greatness in the young girl’s character. She was beautiful, outspoken, educated and intelligent. Deciding with alacrity, and unshaken conviction, the astute father knew this was the bride for his cherished son. Returning home and assuming a deliberately casual stance, he summoned his elder son with a request to manage some business in Mysore and, incidentally, visit his childhood friend’s home. The father’s unobtrusive ‘Cupid’ role Worked perfectly.

 

Perfect Pair

On Valentine’s Day, in the year 1898, the couple was married. The young comely bride, Mehri, saw a whole new chapter of life opening up for .her. Like her husband, Mehri was a great sportswoman and tennis and horse riding were something they both enjoyed. The patriotic young bride invariably wore only saris when she played games and she scoffed impatiently at those Indian women who needlessly embraced the Western dress. She was India’s first woman Olympic athlete at the 1924 Paris games. Not surprisingly, she was the first woman to fly in an aircraft. The feisty young woman also tried her best to improve the status of the women in her own country.

 

Fiesty Feminist

Mehri took on the cudgels of publicly opposing child marriages, the purdah system and the practice of untouchability. Her words regarding the role of women in politics had the ring of courage and clarity of vision: “I have always held that when the women of a country take their just share in the affairs of their country, that country and that nation must rise to be one of the great countries and nations of the world. And so, it will now be with our beloved India,” Her outspoken, radical views on behalf of women earned her the title of being an “icon of feminism in India”. Gandhiji often called her “India’s Spokeswoman”. Deeply in love with his amazing wife, two years into their marriage, the devoted husband bought a stunning gift for Mehri — a diamond, which outshone other diamonds in quality, clarity, size and value. The diamond had been mined in South Africa. Mehri wore the diamond proudly, with great flair at all important functions. The years sped by. Mehri’s grand old father-in-law, the wise head of the family, passed away too early. Though his life had been a grand success, the old man’s ambitions for a much better world, and a better India, were yet to flower. But such was the bond between the wise old father and his son, that the son became the instrument for fulfilling his father’s dreams. Like the father, the son also created wealth and magnanimously gave back to the people. With admirable generosity, the noble son also gave full credit to his father for his foresight and leadership qualities. –

Destiny’s Blow

Yet, hard times befall all A terrible financial crisis almost knocked the couple off their feet. Without flinching, Mehri and her husband gave up all their assets, including their personal jeweller); including the stupendous diamond, to save their businesses and their workers. Such was their sacrifice that no worker lost his job. No harm came to the business, as with time, hard work and by audacious but calculated risks, it slowly turned around. The husband was not one to be beaten without a fight. He rebuilt his empire. Then, once again, a greater tragedy struck. Mehri, not yet 50, was afflicted with a cancer, which sapped her of her strength, her blood and her life. The husband did everything humanly possible to save his wife from the ravages of the disease. He took her to all the best doctors of the land, and they even travelled abroad to the most skilled and knowledgeable physicians of the world. But there was no respite. Mehri died, leaving a grieving husband. Through his personal sorrow and sense of loss, the husband slowly came face-to-face with some scalding truths. His valiant efforts to save the life of his soulmate had been shot down due to two big shortcomings. One, a universal lack of knowledge about the dread disease, and second, a lack of medical and research facilities in his own native country. Donating his entire wealth and assets to remedy these deficiencies, the lonely man died a year later. This is the story of how a cancer research centre and the first cancer hospital in India were created. By now the reader must have solved the enigma of the deliberate avoidance of “names”. Yes, this is about Jamshetji Tata, the father of the industrial revolution in India, Sir Dorab Tata, his elder son, head of all the Tata companies, and Meherbai Tata, wife of Sir Dorab. This is the story of how the Tata Memorial Hospital was created for the people of India.

 

 

 

Courtesy : Jame Jamshed – 14 August 2022

 

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