The last letter from Trupti Shah, founder of Sahiyar, Baroda


Tragic news. Trupti Shah, founder of Sahiyar, Baroda and dear friend of all of us, passed away in baroda. She was fighting cancer for a year and half, but continued her activism in the bravest manner. Her husband and fellow activist, Rohit Prajapati and her son, Manav are both in Baroda, and were with her when she passed away. Last October she send me this letter…

Pulsating life from a hospital room window

(Translated from Gujarati)

Saturday, 10-10-2015.

Dear friends, comrades and well wishers,

After two months of ups and downs on health front, finally had to be hospitalised to remove the abdominal fluid. Felt bit relieved after removing some six and half litres of this fluid. And as per doctors’ advice also completed a round of chemotherapy. Meanwhile, intake of targeted medicines continues. The chemotherapy dose that began from one in afternoon finally was over half an hour past midnight. I was in such deep slumber for past an hour or so that I never realised when they removed the IV drip from my hand.

I woke up at around three early morning to the wails of a new born. Behind the flimsy partition dividing the semi-special room, the newborn girl seemed to cry due to hunger. The new born’s inexperienced mother was trying hard to breastfeed the child. She was also in pain due to the caesarean delivery. And the grandmother remained in quandary, not knowing whom to attend first, the wailing grandchild or the daughter in pain.

Forced by my tendency, I could not keep still n quiet. Lying in bed, I started cooing and doing the baby talk babble with the newborn and voicing tips for breastfeeding to the new mother. They welcomed it (that is what I believe) and I felt satisfied with my attempts. Soon a nurse came and began to help them. The newborn enthused my mind with all kinds of positive thoughts.

As I looked out of the window, the dawn was breaking with the first flush of daylight. Out there, monkeys and their young ones were playing with each other, teasing each other. I could not fathom who was whose mother and who was whose infant.

On one side of my hospital bed were the throbbing heartbeats of the newborn and in the window ahead, the togetherness of the mother monkeys with their young ones; these suffused me both with appreciation and respect for Life.

I feel satisfied as I look behind at my entire life. I had tried to spend myself cent per cent possibly as per my capacities, abilities and limitations whenever required and in turn I am showered with immense love, respect and recognition. I have no regrets if death were to come this very moment.

I feel that perhaps I might get the time that I need, after all that happened incrementally past eight-ten days.

I need six months of quality time. Albeit, whatever additional time I get…all that time I will definitely put to use but during those six months I will strive to complete these three tasks

If I get these six months, these and other works have to be done.

1. Efforts to ensure that Sahiyar and all the movements that I am involved continue to have my strength even in my absence.

2. I have tried to be candid in both my personal and public life, but there remains much that I have been unable to say with an open heart, without any inhibitions to close friends, dear ones and comrades. There is still much so much knotted inside. Similarly, you all might also would have something to ask me, tell me. I want to strive to unravel all these, straighten up relations with you all as much as possible.

3. And lastly if some little more time and strength is left, I want to critically evaluate myself and my work and hopefully document it.

Dear ones, Comrades, Friends I am brimming with all your love, well wishes and care and I am sure that all these will only increase further.

All yours


(P.S.: Days passed by, it took me so long to get October 10 musings written and edited, meanwhile health continues to oscillate. But now I feel so much better.

The original letter was in Gujarat and sent to few friends who could read Gujarati. Now sending this translation on 27-10-2015. I will be admitted again on 29th for second round of chemo therapy and will be back home on 31st October.)

Pamela Philipose

Pamela Philipose

Pamela Philipose is presently director and editor-in-chief of Women's Feature Service, an agency mandated to make visible gender in media coverage ( She was earlier associated with The Indian Express, The Times Of India and Down to Earth magazine. She authored a book of political satire for Penguin India entitled 'Laugh All The Way To The Vote Bank'. In 1999, she was awarded the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Woman Journalist and the Zee Astitva award for journalism in 2007. She has contributed to various anthologies – most recently to ‘Memoirs From The Women's Movement In India: Making A Difference' (Women Unlimited/Kali For Women). She also written a chapter for the book 'Making news, Breaking News, Her Own Way' (edited by Latika Padgaonkar and Shubha Singh (Tranquebar, 2012)