Parla: In a perfect example of how superstition still haunts many in rural India, a sexagenarian was forced to pawn her ration card to bear the cost of the ‘shradh’ of her son and treat the villagers to a feast.
She did so to avoid being ostracised. The incident took place at Beheraguda village of Chhanchanabahali panchayat under Dharmagarh block in Kalahandi district.
Till four years back, Sulochana Doruan led a comfortable life with her family comprising her son, daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. Her son, Subhas worked as a daily labourer.
Misfortune struck when Subhas was diagnosed with leprosy four years back. Despite treatment, Subhas did not get relief and subsequently stopped working.
Subhas’ wife also left him and took along their youngest son leaving the other members of the family to fend for themselves. Among those were her seven-year-old daughter Dibyabharati and four-year-old son Manas. However, in spite of all hindrances, Sulochana single-handedly maintained the family.
Subhas meanwhile breathed his last January 17. As a leper is shunned and looked down upon in many parts of rural India. It was a similar experience for Sulochana. There was no one to carry Subhas’s body to the crematorium. Finally, Subhas’s brother and his nephew carried the body on a bicycle to the village cremation ground and performed the last rites.
However, trouble for Sulochana’s family did not end there. The villagers, out of superstitious belief, asked Sulochana to throw a feast and include mutton and chicken in the ‘shradh’ menu or face ostracisation.
“We are very poor. The lion’s share of our savings had been spent on my son’s treatment. So I had no option but to pawn my ration card to throw a feast on the occasion of the ‘shradh’ ritual of my son,” lamented Sulochana.
“Now with the ration card also gone, I am worried about bringing up my grandchildren. I don’t know how I will manage,” she added.
Members of ‘Youth Foundation’, an NGO, have met Sulochana and are trying to help her out. The director of the organisation Yugesh Tandi said that they will enroll Dibyabharati and Manas at the ‘Sishu Suraksha Unit’ for proper upbringing.
Local senior citizens have also urged the administration to provide Sulochana with financial aid so that she can get her ration card back.