“I lost my child to the deadly Leptospirosis last year. She was the apple of my eye."

Dispatches from Munnar Distasteful truths and hidden sorrows
Blog Saturday, October 03, 2015 - 22:12

By Anitha Sharma

Little did I know the depth and width of the truths the women would share with us the short time we spent together, in spite of many ifs and dos and don’ts. But it was clear in a short while the clarity of thought, the sensible and rational analysis and the true humaneness of their language and gestures. It seems stupid and shallow, the time and energy we waste, attributing unnecessary motives to some just and simple demands and needs.

“I lost my child to the deadly Leptospirosis last year. She was the apple of my eye, my bundle of joy and hope. My situation was such that I was not able to get her the best medical help. The only thing I realized when she was gone was the weight of memories she left behind. She would haunt the single room which we called our home- with her laughter and calls, her cries and small pranks, I found it impossible to stay there. I wanted a change of the space we call home. But no one listened to me and I slowly became silent and withdrawn. It took months to cure me- even now she does come and call me but her voice is also becoming fainter and fainter.” 

With tears rolling down her weather-beaten dark cheeks, the young mother told me the story of her life asking some basic questions that revealed the depth of her demands and also related to the years of exploitation.

“How can we not work? As such with all the cuts, we get less than 2-3K a month. Can a family survive on that? On paper, we are given accommodation, electricity, water, rations, blankets? We do get it all, but at what cost?  But.. there are many buts..we do not want to elaborate on all that..we want to live like human beings. We are not scared of working – we are seasoned and hardened by the sun and rain, by the steep mountains and slippery rocks, by the leech-ridden paths. We are not frightened by all this – this is the only life we have known. We wake up to the smell of tender tea leaves and the sound of wind. But we need to feel human – we need warmth and a decent space to live, the security of a strong roof over our heads, a clean toilet and water supply”

“I am unwell with pain in my knees and legs after years of work in the plantations, plucking the leaves and carrying the load up the hills. Sometimes I feel my knees will buckle and I will roll down the hills. This slows my pace. When I see the doctor he tells me two things – Do not carry weight and do not put on weight - I am then given painkillers which I know will temporarily give relief but will not cure my problem. I can only smile helplessly on hearing the solutions that I cannot implement. Can I afford to stay at home and take rest or prepare a balanced diet chart that will help me reduce the heaviness of my middle age?” 

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