news Sunday, May 10, 2015 - 05:30
  On the night of May 6, Geetha spoke to her 17-year-old daughter one last time. But the conversation was far from pleasant. Geetha learned why her daughter had tried to kill herself.   Aparna Ramabhadran a junior rower training with Sports Authority of India (SAI), was battling for life, after having consumed a poisonous fruit ‘othalanga’ along with three other athletes.   Sabitha Santhosh, Shilpa KR and Teresa Jacob showed signs of recovery but Aparna succumbed to the poison on May 7. As Aparna lay on a bed in the Intensive Care Unit of the Alappuzha Medical college, all kinds of stories were reported and spread about her and the other three girls – that they had drunk beer, one of them had a boyfriend who would stay in the hostel, and much more.    Sitting on the mud floor of her two-roomed house, Geetha says nothing could be further from the truth. An anganvadi worker, Geetha has endured much to raise Aparna and her younger brother Kannan. She spoke about the struggle and what forced her daughter to commit suicide. This mother’s only plea to the media and the world is not to defame her dead daughter, to let her be in peace.   “My child was born in extreme poverty, she suffered a lot. Her father is an alcoholic and was irresponsible. Her only aim was to provide a better life to her mother and her only brother. She suffered everything to get a good job. She used to tell me that no matter how bad it gets, she will train with SAI as that was her key to get a central government job,” Geetha says.     Geetha says that Aparna hadn’t told them about her troubles because her only dream was to “give us a poverty-free life”. There were, however, signs of trouble that Geetha now recognses for what they were. Aparna had last come home to celebrate the festival of Vishu in April.   After the Vishu holidays, she was scared to return to the SAI hostel which is just 8 km away from their house, as her stay was allotted in two of the senior girl’s room  who used to harass her.   A distraught Geetha now rues the fact that she did not have enough time with her daughter to understand the full gravity of the problem.   On the night of May 6, Shilpa KR called her house and declared that they were going to consume poison.   “I rushed to the hospital. The four children were in the ICU, but they wouldn’t tell us or the doctors what poison they consumed. Out of desperation Shilpa’s father slapped her, begging her to reveal what they ate. It was then that the girl said they ate the fruit,” says Geetha.   The mother and daughter had a brief heart-to-heart conversation hours before the latter’s death. “She told me the harassment from ‘chechis’ in the hostel was unbearable. In spite of everything she still called them chechi. She told me that the seniors defamed them, spread stories that she used to hide a boyfriend in the room. My daughter wailed and said that was all false. She spoke about how they would abuse and make her wash their clothes,” Geetha says. (Chechi is a Malayalam word referring to an elder sister)    News reports the next day claimed that the four girls had consumed beer and were ragged by seniors for it. “My daughter never mentioned that. She clearly said they were ragging and harassing her. Why are these stories being spread about her? Would she lie to her own mother on her death bed?” asks Geetha.   Geetha now wishes she had recorded her daughter’s statement on a mobile phone. “At least then I could prove to the world that this was a case of extreme ragging. No other daughter should suffer like mine did.”   Read- Kerala athletes' family say their daughter's are being made pawns in SAI politics

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