Murlidhar Chowdhury (53) enjoyed yoga as it kept him fit to endure the gruelling 12-hour shifts and the one-and-a-half-hour suburban train ride to his workplace.
Chowdhury would do yoga before daybreak. He never switched on the lights during his yoga sessions; he did not want to disturb his sleeping family in the small house.
That is how Chowdhury,the Railway Protection Force head constable killed by terrorists at Mumbai CST on November 26,2009,lived most of his life,thinking of others welfare.
Since 2002,Chowdhury had been staying in a house that does not fit in with the BHK concept. The house at Ambernath has a carpet area of 200-odd square feet with a drawing room spanning 80 sq ft. The rest of the space is occupied by a bathroom,a toilet and a passage leading to the kitchen. The drawing room also serves as the bedroom and the dining room as a study for his son. That was why he never switched on the lights during yoga.
His widow Snehalata Chowdhury says he chose to make the congested space their dwelling as he staunchly believed in living within their means and did not want to take a loan for a bigger house.
Till his death,there were three people in the house the Chowdhury couple and their son Devesh,while their daughter Priyanka lived with her maternal uncle at Malad where she completed her graduation. Chowdhurys youngest brother Ashok was also a guest of the household for 15 years and moved out two years ago. Since he was with us for a long time,people think he is our son, said Snehalata.
The house is currently reeling under six hours of loadshedding. There are no inverters. As of now,since the power cuts are during the day,it does not affect the studies of Devesh,who is in the ninth standard. It is during summer that loadshedding in Ambernath stretches for eight hours. Thats when the Chowdhury household uses a rechargeable light to illuminate the home.
The furnishing in the drawing room is sparse with two cushioned divans,a plastic chair and a right-angled cabinet which seats the television set.
Two speakers are perched on a glass support on the wall,but the music player is absent. The household lacks a washing machine. It is not practical to have a washing machine due to six hours of loadshedding during the day. Besides,the water supply lasts only an hour and the water has to be stored for the next day, said Priyanka.
Murlidhar Chowdhury was the oldest of seven siblings raised in poverty in Hingona village in Jalgaon district of Maharashtra. He joined the RPF as a constable in 1978 and,four years later,married Malad resident Snehalata who worked in a pharmaceutical company. Initially they stayed at Snehalatas maternal house.
His net salary then was Rs 500 while mine was about Rs 300, recalls Snehalata. Even with the meagre income,the Chowdhurys went on to buy their own house at Bhayander.
After moving in and out of a couple of houses,the family finally moved into a spacious four-room chawl at Ambernath that did not have a built-in toilet. The area was not good for bringing up the children. So we sold the house and moved into this place in 2002. It is small but quieter, said Snehalata.
The family is looking forward to moving into their new 2 BHK accommodation at Sion Pratiksha Nagar,given by state government to all police personnel killed in the terrorist attack. We are waiting for Devesh to complete his matriculation before moving into our new house, she said.