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After Many Including Diljit Dosanjh Share Her Video, Help Pours in For Jalandhar's 70-year-old 'Parathewali Bebe'

Image: Twitter/@capt_amarinder)

Image: Twitter/@capt_amarinder)

A Ludhiana based NGO reached out and the chairperson of the state women’s commission Manisha Gulati also honoured her. The Jalandhar administration gave her a cheque of Rs 50,000 and on Tuesday Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh extended help of Rs 1 lakh.

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Anuradha Shukla

Her name is Kamlesh Kumari and she is seventy years strong. Over the past nearly three decades, for many Jalandhar residents the humble bench stall of “Bebe Ji” in the city's Phagwara Gate market known for electronic goods has become synonymous with sumptuous parathas and sabzi and taste just like home. But not many knew about the dexterous woman till a video of her went viral on social media this month. For everyone, she is “Bebe”.

Her answers are mostly short as she gets busy making fresh parathas with her hands and serving them on the bench which has been her workstation for 28 years. Yes, this tiny outlet has kept her going. With this she raised her son who is a taxi driver and lives with his family, and she still helps him.

Circumstances are such that though the two shops behind her belong to her after her mother’s death, she cannot get any space inside them. The shops were given on rent by her mother decades ago for a mere Rs 400 and the rate is still the same because of old tenancy rules. She also inherited the old house above the shops but it is in a dilapidated condition, making her live away in Model Town.

Every day she cycles her way to run her stall and feed the customers to make a living. Coronavirus hit her business badly and there were very few visitors because of the lockdown and even afterwards. As soon as her video went viral and was shared by actor and singer Diljit Dosanjh, people started taking note of Bebe and coming over in a bid to increase her sales and help her.

A Ludhiana based NGO reached out and the chairperson of the state women’s commission Manisha Gulati also honoured her. The Jalandhar administration gave her a cheque of Rs 50,000 and on Tuesday Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh extended help of Rs 1 lakh.

Kamlesh Kumari, a woman who likes the simple life, smiles as she says when people pay thousands to eat at hotels then why not the inexpensive food she sells.

“I serve daal-sabzi for much less,” she says. “Kids keep demanding from me, I have to go on working...what else. With markets closed nowadays, there are fewer vehicles...it's not like earlier days.”

Is she happy? “Kee kariye hun fer? Karna hee paina...(What else can I do? I have to work), she says, with an infectious laugh.


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