Girijamma, a septuagenarian, toils in the fields and farms of her neighbourhood throughout the day to get some grass for the cattle tethered in front of her cramped house on the slopes of a small ‘Gumpe’ hill in Bellur, a border village in the district.
All the hard work she does hardly earns a good living for the four grandchildren living with her on the top of the hills in the abyss of poverty and an indefinite future.
Asha, Girijamma’s daughter, left her four children four years ago, following which her husband Ramakrishna married another women and moved out. “Deekshitha the youngest of all was only one-and-half-years-old when my daughter left. Her husband used to beat her after drinking, it had become an every day affair. One day she left everything and vanished, we still do not know where she is,” Girijamma said.
Girijamma looks after four grandchildren Sharath, 14, Ganesh, 11, Yatheesh, 8, and Deekshitha, 6, by breeding a cow. “I earn meager amount selling the milk, which I have to spend for the daily expenses. But we starve on days when I have to use the money for other purposes like medicine, books etc,” Girijamma said.Girijamma is above 70 and her health does not allow her to work throughout everyday. The family does not even know whom to approach to get help from the government.
“I have submitted an appeal to the minister,” Girijamma said with hope in her eyes. She did not know who the minister was. She was talking about the request submitted to Chief Minister Oommen Chandy during the mass interaction programme. What is more grieving is that Girijamma’s ration card is APL, and unfortunately she does not even know when the application for the ration card was submitted. She just received it from the ration store.
The card also does not contain the children’s names. Workers at the local PHC said that, Girijamma’s health is also deteriorating in the recent times. Girijamma only worries about the future of her grandchildren. The life of the family is again an example for the Indian village life, which is labouring under two major handicaps - poverty and ignorance.