Kamalasan and Sarojini donated a property worth Rs 3.5 crore – and have asked the govt to use the space as a home for women with mental illnesses and intellectual disabilities.

Not just for our daughter Why a Kerala couple donated assets worth crores to the govtKamalasan, Priya and Sarojini.
news Human Interest Tuesday, June 19, 2018 - 19:23

Priya was sitting on a chair outside her house, waiting for us. Her father had told her that somebody would visit her soon. When we reached, Priya offered us a weak handshake. Her father Kamalasan, who made news recently along with his wife Sarojini, when the couple donated property worth Rs 3.5 crore to the Kerala government, invited us inside. The huge two-storey house is built on 5800 square feet of land in East Nadakkavu.

The grand exterior of the house turned out to be deceptive; inside, Kamalasan, Sarojini and Priya occupy just about 500 square feet of space, with minimal furnishings.

Prominent on the wall is a photo of AK Gopalan, the communist icon of Kerala, hugging CH Kanaran, an elected member of the first Kerala Assembly. Kanaran was the CPI (M) state secretary between 1964 and 1972, and is Sarojini’s father.

Like her father, 71-year-old Sarojini, too, is a communist, and so is 77-year-old Kamalasan. And that’s the reason, the couple says, they’ve decided to live a minimal life, and donate their extra wealth.

The other reason they gave away a property to the Kerala government: their daughter Priya. The 38-year-old has learning disabilities, and has been living with Schizophrenia since she was 12-years-old. The septuagenarian couple is worried about who will take care of Priya after them.

"We can send our daughter to some private institution by remitting lakhs of rupees. But how can we believe them?” Kamalasan asks.

“I even asked some of my relatives whether they are ready to take care of Priya – but they were very reluctant. They are interested in my property though,” Kamalasan says.

Kamalasan and Sarojini say they have now entrusted the government with their daughter’s care.

On June 8, they handed over their property in Kollam of Kozhikode district, worth Rs 3.5 crore, to the Social Justice Department of the Kerala government. Kamalasan had inherited the land – 36,155 square feet – on which he built a two-storey building that can house more than 50 people. The house will now be converted into a home for women with intellectual disabilities, and women living with mental illnesses.

The centre will be named after their daughter, the ‘Priya home for mentally challenged women.’

But both Kamalasan and Sarojini say that they did not do this for their daughter alone – but for every woman who is neglected and abandoned because of their disability or their mental health.

“I know many people who take care only of their sons. If their daughter is sick, they abandon her completely,” Sarojini says.

“We will take care of our daughter until our last breath. After that, she can go to the care home that we’ve donated – or anywhere else she wants to, as she will get our pension amount,” she says, holding on tightly to her daughter.

Kamalasan says there are other women who are in more difficult circumstances than Priya. "She has us, she has money. But there are many others who don't have these privileges,” Kamalasan says.

“Our decision to donate our assets is with them in mind,” he adds. “I am worried about my daughter, but I am equally worried about others, too.”

The couple has also decided to donate their property in East Nadakkavu (where they live now) – worth Rs 4.5 crore – as well.

"We will hand over this property too, to convert to an institution. I don't believe in any private firms. So mostly, this property will also go to the government as well," Kamalasan says.

The Social Justice department has assured Kamalasan and Sarojini that their daughter will have a safe place to stay, whenever she needs it – and for Kamalasan and Sarojini, this is a relief, as well as a reinforcement of their faith in the government.

“A proper government is the only resort for people and their problems,” Kamalasan says.

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