Superhero grandma needs your help to be able to see again

Why am I fundraising?

I first met Shila Ghosh in July 2015 for this interview:

If you are regular on Facebook you might have come across Shila Ghosh's story. Her son, and the family's sole earning member, passed away in 2006 after a 13 year long battle with a terminal lung disease. During this period she had taken on several loans to help pay for his treatment. When he died not only did her family have no means of survival, they also had huge debts to clear.

Shila had been married at 14 and not allowed to leave the home thereafter. She has studied only upto class three. But when she saw no other recourse after her son's death, she stepped out of the house determined to earn a living for the first time in her life. She was well into her 80's and had never left her house on her own before.

Refusing to accept charity, Shila became a roadside entrepreneur. She travels 76 kms everyday from her home in Bally to sell crispies on the footpath outside Haldiram's in Exide. She is 87 today and can barely walk. Severe cataract hinders her vision. But she cannot stop working because her family's survival is at stake.

Her cataract was a problem even when I had interviewed her back in July. But the brave granny, who battles insurmountable challenges every day of her life, is too chicken to go under the knife. She would rather bear the pain and loss of vision than opt for medical care. Also there's the fact that she can't afford it. 

Her family is alarmed for her and got in touch with me recently to convince her about the urgency of the matter. After much bribing and assurances, she has consented to the surgery. But the cost and loss of income scares her. She has cleared most of the debts that she had taken on for her son's treatment over the past decade. Now she, understandably, doesn't want to go into debt again.

Why should you help  Shila? If you have ever come across her story on social media before and marvelled at the resilience of the human spirit, then you know that she displays that resilience and strength in full form. Her actions inspire us and make us push ourselves. She makes us believe in the best of ourselves, in what we are capable of. This is not charity but a worthy tribute to a veritable superhero who walks among us. 

And she is really really cute.

What do I plan to do with the funds?

If she waits any longer, Shila risks her cataract bursting and losing her vision for life. Half of the funds raised will be for her surgery and post operative care. The other half will be for her and her family to get by on while she recuperates from her surgery, since she won't be able to earn during this time.


Shila's surgery will be done by Dr. Abhijeet Sen of the famed Drishti Pradip clinic in Jodhpur Park. She is currently undergoing preliminary treatment from Dr. Keya Sen regarding the same.

Shila with Dr. Keya Sen
I will be posting regular updates on her medical care, pictures before and after operation, a breakdown of the costs and any other details that are posed to me.

Shila loves meeting her fans. If any of you are in Kolkata and want to pop by while she is admitted to the nursing home, I'd be happy to coordinate a visit.

Ask for an update
7th June 2016
Dear well-wishers of Shila,

I am so sorry for the delay in this update.

In February Shila’s grandson contacted me, asking me if a surgery end of March or early April was possible. I assured him it was, but that it was best we get it done right away because in February the weather was humanly tolerable in Kolkata. He said it was not possible, because he had ‘other commitments.’

I began calling him from 20th March. He told me to settle for a date mid-April. By then the weather had become too hot to allow safe post-surgery recuperation in a non AC environment. Shila, naturally, has no AC and will not hear of recuperating in someone else’s home (I’ve offered mine).

Since the fundraising has been completed, her grandson has been committing to and forestalling a surgery. So I’ve no great faith that his word on this matter means anything. Now he’s said that once monsoon hits the city and temperatures have cooled, they are willing to go ahead with it. But I am not holding my breath.

My work has taken me out of the city. But my family remains there and are available to help anytime she may have a medical emergency. Moreover the doctors at Dristi Pradeep are intimately familiar with her case and know to expect her any day now that her cataract is at risk of bursting. Which brings us to the question of the finances.

We’ve raised a healthy amount for Shila which my family and the doctors are wary of handing over to her grandson, given that this doesn't seem to be a priority for him. Furthermore we are aware that she will have a long and painful treatment process ahead of her, given her stubborn fear to get it treated in time. We’ve been conflicted over whether to start paying her a monthly pension or wait till said medical emergency occurs and then release the funds needed for the treatment and recuperation. There is also the faint hope of Shila’s cataract surgery going underway in July, but as long as that remains her grandson’s decision, I am not holding my breath.

So please let me know what you prefer. You can reply directly in this email thread or let me know in the comments on the Milaap page. Based on your replies, discussing it with the Milaap team and having a final consultation with her ophthalmologists I’ll make an informed decision. Should the overwhelming majority be in favour of starting a monthly pension, we’ll do so from the 1st of July.

A great day to all of you. Should any of you be up to it, you can head down to the Haldiram in Exide and have a chat with Shila about the importance of the operation. Buy her a laddoo from Haldiram (they’re her favourite) and spend a lovely ten minutes (or however long she can spare). She’s usually there from 4 pm onwards.

Warm Regards

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raised of Rs.80,000 goal

77 Supporters

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Payment options: Online, cheque pickups

Supporters (77)

Raksha donated Rs.100

I wish you speedy recovery

Sen donated $30
Monica donated $100
Debopriya donated Rs.1,500
Anonymous donated $100
Ankita donated Rs.200

She is an example for beggars of this country... #Respect