Two single mothers' dreams of better lives for their children reduce to ashes

Among the 13 victims in the explosion at Rengapalayam, were Muneeswari and Tamilselvi, single mothers who had dreams of building better lives for their children were reduced to ashes along with them.
Relatives of the victims waiting in front of Mortuary in Virudhunagar Government Hospital. (Photo | K K Sundar)
Relatives of the victims waiting in front of Mortuary in Virudhunagar Government Hospital. (Photo | K K Sundar)

VIRUDHUNAGAR:  Heart-wrenching scenes filled Virudhunagar Government Medical College Hospital on Tuesday as the bereaved families struggled to come to terms with the passing of 13 people in the explosion at Rengapalayam village. Scores of women and children sat in the corridors wailing, and the medical staff hurtled to treat the burn victim who survived the accident.

Among the 13 victims were Muneeswari and Tamilselvi, two single mothers whose dreams of building better lives for their children were reduced to ashes along with them. Muneeswari's husband left her when she was pregnant with their daughter more than a decade ago. She worked at a hostel in Chennai for a while and then moved to her native Alagapuri. The only work the class 8 pass-out could find was at a firecracker unit.

"With a daily wage of Rs 250 she managed to raise her daughter Sandya and ensure her education," Muneeswari's sister-in-law said. Her relatives have requested the state government to fund Sandya's education, who is studying class 9 at a government school, and later support her to land a job.

Along with Muneeswari, 52-year-old Tamilselvi, who toiled a lifetime to raise and educate her son T Mutheeswaran, breathed her last on Tuesday. Mutheeswaran is a B.Sc graduate and has been preparing for a police job since his graduation. Among the 13 deceased, six persons belong to Alagapuri and Gandhinagar villages in Vadugapatti panchayat.

Relatives and neighbours of the deceased who gathered at the Virudhunagar hospital, where the bodies were brought for autopsy, said that more than 400 residents in their panchayat work at firecracker units. "Unlike other jobs, we get up to `400 daily at cracker units. We are also provided transport facilities and bonus during festivals. This is why people in our panchayat prefer this work even though they are fully aware of the risks involved," a villager said.

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