One such mother is below, the resilient tale of P.A. Ushakumari.
Story and images courtesy Rasika; posting with permission from Trivandrum Life.
Kannan Sharma was born on Oct.27, 1990 at the Benzigar Hospital, Kollam. He had red globes for eyes. He was blind. He was named Kannan, with fervent prayers to show him the light. The light of sight.
At 60 days, Kannan was taken to the Aravind Eye Hospital, Madurai, in the hope of restoring his eyesight. “Kannan ine kaazhcha kudukaamengil, ee lokathil andhar undavilla (If we could give sight to Kannan, then there would be no blind people in the world),” said the doctors. Kannan was doomed to a life in the dark.
His father was a temple priest. As the boy’s illness became more obvious, he took to drinking. He divorced his wife, and tore the family to ruins in the process. No one has heard of him since.
When Kannan was 10, the family moved to Trivandrum. Helped by neighbours and relatives, Usha sought treatment at the Sree Chithra Thirunal Institute for Medical Sciences & Technology (SCTIMST) for her son. She also enrolled him at the Blind School, Vazhuthacaud, hoping it would help in bringing her son a step towards betterment. He carried on till grade 4. But he couldn’t study. He couldn’t retain what he was taught. He couldn’t interact with other students. He couldn’t form words. He couldn’t communicate. He needed someone at his beck and call at every instant. He had to be led. He had to be fed. He couldn’t take care of his basic necessities. He was silent, and in his own world indiscernible to us.
On recommendation from doctors at SCTIMST, he was admitted for six months at the Institute of Communicative and Cognitive Neurosciences (ICCONS), in Shoranur. They helped him with his speech, and he learnt to call out “Amma”. He learnt a few words to indicate basic bodily functions. After six months, treatment was no longer affordable. And he was brought back home.
Home, for Usha, is rented. With no money and no house, and larger hospital bills, Usha decided it was time to make some money. She started working as an ayah at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (BVB). Doing all that was necessary for him in the morning, she kept the fan and radio running, and she locked the house and went for work. At noon, relatives fed the boy, and spent some time with him. In the evening, she came back, to Kannan resting where she left him in the morning.
He is not violent. He cannot understand food, unless it is in his mouth. He doesn’t know water unless it is poured into his mouth to drink. He does not ask for food and water. If you feed him, he will eat. He does not move. He can hear, and understand some sounds. He can understand music. He needs the radio on all the time. His only light.
He forms words, after years of hearing them. He does not know what they mean.
The City Corporation sends Rs 250 a month. The Muthoot Bank sends Rs 200 a month. The application for government aid (which is availed by BPL families) was rejected because Usha did not have a ration card in her own name at the time. Once in a while, TV channels take up the cause, and generate some money. But these funds are intermittent, while the need for money is a persistent.
“Nothing can be done. But if he can at least understand what I tell him, and if there is any chance he can be mentally developed to communicate basic needs, that is enough. But it takes too much money,” says Usha Kumari. She cannot any more carry Kannan, who is 19 now, as she used to do before. Each trip to the hospital burns a hole in her purse.
Once a year, Usha and her sister take a trip to Guruvayoor, with Kannan. She cries to the lord to show a way, to give them hope.
“I want to take him outside, to the beach. But he cannot see. But I want him to listen to the waves. But he can’t walk. And he is too heavy for me to carry him. Auto ile pogan kaash illa (I have no money to take the auto rickshaw),” explains Usha.
She wants your help, and support. Not your charity. She doesn’t want sympathy, but a means to pay her bills as long as the boy survives.
If you want to help her, you can donate in the form of money orders, cheques or drafts, addressed to:
Trivandrum – 695023.
You may also transfer money directly to her Savings Bank Account Number 15061000020989, at HDFC.
The residential address is:
S/O PA Usha Kumari
Sasthan Koil Street
Fort, Trivandrum 23.
It is preferred that the donations be sent directly to the bank manager or to the SB account because Usha leaves for work during the day. Kannan cannot walk to the door and receive the intended post, or sign in acceptance.
Usha Kumari's story may not be a rare tale among the millions of mothers we have in this country who struggle to find food and shelter for their kids. We cannot help every one of them. But surely we can give a helping hand to those who we can!
Thanks to Srijith. V for allowing me to repost the story from Trivandrum Life. Kindly use the Re-tweet button on top or use mail-forwards to get the appeal across to more. It surely helps... Thank you!