14th August 1937 was a day of celebration for Chandrabai and Hirba Sanvordekar, the day brought Meera into their lives. Meera was their 7th child, one of four sisters and three brothers. The Sanvordekars were a reputed name in Malem, Panjim. Meera’s baba (father) presided as the first official at the Post office in Panjim while Chandrabai was a housewife, with a keen interest in craft, cooking and reading. Before moving to Sanvordem in the later years, Meera completed her primary schooling from Mushtifund Primary School and her secondary education from People’s High School in the heart of Panjim.
On moving to Sanvordem along with her family most of her siblings were already married. Her eldest sister was 18 years older than her and took care of her almost like a mother. Growing up in Portuguese Goa, one needed a passport to cross the state border, her strong inclination towards education motivated her to cross the border to Belgaum where she cleared “Pravin” and “Prabodh” Hindi examinations successfully, which entitled her the position of a Hindi Teacher at the ‘New Educational Institute’ in Sanvordem. She had to wait several years before further education was accessible to her in Goa. After a long wait at the age of 26, post the liberation of Goa , she joined a special BA course at Dhempe College of Arts and Science ,the year it was established in 1962.
Meera was the only woman to deliver a speech to the crowd on the Goa liberation day (19th December, 1961) in Sanvordem. This is a moment she recalls with pride. “I delivered the speech in Hindi but my only language was the language of a liberated Goan.” She has always been full of courage, be it her decisions about education, marriage and other choices that have shaped her life for the last 83 years.
After completing her BA in economics, she married Dr. Sonu Kamat and stayed focused on her family. They moved from Panjim to Panchawadi, a small village in Curchorem with the bare minimum facilities, but she made this journey happily, being an amazingly understanding wife who stood by him through thick and thin. Her husband worked at the government hospital from 1970 until 1978, before starting his individual practice and later establishing his own Hospital. Meera supported her husband in constructing the Dr. Sonu Kamat Hospital in Curchorem, in 1981, a hospital that still stands today.
Meera and Sonu were blessed with their first child, Rimmi in 1969,. Followed by twins Satyesh and Sarvesh, born in 1971 and Sushant, born in 1974. Sonu Kamat completed his Diploma in Gynecology and Obstetrics in 1971-78, while simultaneously taking care of his hospital with the constant love and support from his wife and children. Meera has always strived to be an excellent daughter, sister, wife, mother and grandmother and has been a constant inspiration to all the women in her family. Though she is known by different names, may it be Meera or Meera tai, Maa or Dotor aji, the only thing that remains constant is the love and respect with which she is addressed.
Meera and Sonu celebrated their 50thth Wedding Anniversary in 2018 with their children, their better-halves and grandchildren. “I am blessed with such a wonderful family. “Our daughter in law, Mrunal recited a poem she had penned for our 50th wedding anniversary celebration, that took us through our life journey once again and I felt, every second, every minute and every year of it was worth it, to get here with my husband by my side.”
Meera and Sonu’s eldest daughter Rimmi is a housewife and a Writer, their twin sons Satyesh and Sarvesh are Gynecologist and Orthopedic specialist respectively, and practice with their father in the same hospital while their youngest son Sushant is a dentist and practices in Pune. A legacy of doctors!
“We have four daughters and 4 sons”, she says, counting in their son in law, Manjunath and daughters-in-law Sakshi, Mrunal and Shalaka. And “the funny part is all members of my family share no other initials than ‘M’ and ‘S’, ‘M’ for Meera and ‘S’ for Sonu (Meera, Sonu, Mahima (Rimmi), Manjunath, Manashri, Manjiri, Satyesh, Mrunal, Shamik, Sarvesh, Sakshi, Swara, Sachi, Sushant, Shalaka and Shlok.)
Manashri Pai Dukle
Photographs courtesy The Meera Kamat Archive. See all the entire collection here.