Pakru, the little white dog, and the cats Kuttan, Kittu and Valiakuttan are the souls that take the emptiness out of Sangeetha’s life. Living in, nay confined to, a wayside shack at Irinjayam, near Nedumangad, these are the only beings that she gets to interact with, most of the days. Apart from a near-abnormal mother afflicted with Parkinson’s disease and dementia.
The story of Sangeetha and Baby would be a good read on Mother’s Day in May or Daughter’s Day in September, about a daughter selflessly looking after her ill mother 24 X 7 X 365. But beyond that, it is a call to the society to help out a fellow-being fatigued by poverty, helplessness and the torment of being a round-the-clock caregiver.
The grind has to be seen to be believed. A mother, who keeps moaning all through the day and night, who has to be washed, clothed and fed, given medicines at one-hour intervals and cared for every minute of the day. Baby can only cry even if an ant crawls up her skin.
This has been going on for eight long years, without a respite. Of the mother-daughter duo, one wonders who is suffering the most. ‘’This girl is a gem. She is well-educated, but unfortunately can’t go for a job as she can’t leave her mother alone for even 10 minutes. She has been looking after her mother all these years without a complaint. You have to be blessed to get a daughter like this,’’ said Sumathy, a neighbour and a relative.
A bachelor’s degree in history and a post-graduate diploma in computer applications is the education widowed Baby gave her daughter from the income that she earned by carrying loads of boulders, granites and coconut shells. She wanted her daughter to have the same education as anybody else’s child.
A determination that gifted Baby with severe shoulder and neck pain and problems of the spine. Yet, even while on medication, she would go to work so that her daughter’s education remained unaffected. And all the three times that she fell down, Baby dismissed it as occupational hazard. Until the doctors asked her to do an MRI scan, Baby had refused to see the magnitude of her health problems. She had to give up working, as Parkinson’s disease began to reveal its ugly claws.
Sangeetha’s dream was a government job. After her PGDCA, Sangeetha attended PSC exam coaching classes, while trying to earn some money by tapping rubber - until the day she found her mother on the road, having fallen off the chair where she was made to sit. ‘’Once she gets her convulsions, it is pretty bad and we just have to wait till it is over. If the medicines are given on time, these are manageable,’’ said Sangeetha.
Now, medicines come free of cost on a regular basis from Pallium India and a little money from the Shruthi Social Circle of SBT Main Branch. Does this suffice? ‘’You know the situation is quite queer. We get rice at Rs 2 from the ration shop, but my mother does not eat rice. She likes buns, biscuits and oats. How can I tell this to anyone,’’ Sangeetha asked.
The helplessness was evident. If and when her mother sleeps at all, Sangeetha is busy washing buckets and buckets of sheets and her mother’s clothes, which get soiled many times a day. And when it rains continuously, Sangeetha’s endurance touches an all-time low. ‘’Sometimes I feel like giving up. But then in those very rare sane moments, when my mother cries over my condition, it touches me deep inside and I promise to look after her, come what may,’’ she said.
Sangeetha attempted to learn tailoring, but the house number 247 in the ward number 18 of Irinjayam, Nedumangad, is too small and congested for a stitching machine, leave alone the loads of clothes her customers might bring. The thatched hut on encroached land with a two feet by two feet kitchen and a five feet by three feet bedroom is shared by two human beings, three cats and a dog.
All attempts by the neighbours to build a house in a nearby compound turned futile when one of them moved court against the initiative. The problem is knotty and the solution is obscure. Can anyone help this family in any way?