Thursday, 1 May 2014

Kala, Narendra and the two children came yesterday travelling 6 hours by rickety buses to meet Dr. Girija. All of them show the worst effects of a whole life of poverty. A course of good ayurvedic treatment should restore the family back to health ... god willing. One family will be back on its feet out of ill health.

Kala is also blind in one eye. She was telling me the story. When her mother was pregnant, her father who was unwell, waved his stick when he was eating, and accidentally hit a sparrow. The sparrow hopped away, and its hurt eye was watering. The mother rushed and poured some water into its eye, while berating the father for his carelessness. She put the bird carefully under a basket. A little later the bird had disappeared. When Kala was born, she was born with one eye unopened. They went to soothsayers, and were told that this was due to the curse of the bird. They went to Tirumala, and dropped in the hundi a brass image of an eye as is made for idols. After thet her eye opened a little, and that eye is like a sparrow's eye ... It is half opened, but she cannot see with it. She said that when pregnant no bird or snake or anything else should be hurt.

Kala's own life has been one of hardship. Her father died when she was a small child, and her mother laboured to bring them up. Her mother had lost her parents when young and had led a life of utter poverty, and was unable to work hard given her ill health. Childhood was a long struggle.

But Kala says there is a god, because her father's younger brother had no children and so helped bring them up. And thus god cared for them, when all was lost ... She mentions with gratitude a kind woman in Pakala who took pity on the family and helped the brother with finances as he studied through government schools and college.

Narendra, her husband, is undernourished and weak. And Kala given her own handicaps was married to him. And it has beem a downward spiral ... and Kala has borne the burdens of the family on her frail shoulders ... and allowed her health to deteriorate further. The village people place much emphasis on post pregnancy care, and say that much of future health depends on the initial three months being well nourished and cared for. Kala, with no support, could not follow a regimen, and ascribes her further deterioration to this. Kala took on the work of cooking the noon day meals for the school children so as to earn a little. And she trudges long distances for headloads of firewood.

Meantime Narendra, given his problems, has got into drink ... and wife beating ... and also occasional suicide attempts.

Kala stays strong and sensible - in mind if not in body ... and once health is restored, will hopefully take on the challenges of the upkeep of the children better. Narendra has also been given a medicine to help him stop drink ... but he needs to have the will to break the habit.

Kala says she maybe she can learn tailoring ... and i said maybe someone would get her a machine if she learnt ... She said she wanted to in summer - but this was the mango harvest season, and in these times of no employment she can get a little work now ... What all constraints there can be !

The saga can be endless ... just now Narendra returned after disappearing with his bags for 4 hours after telling her that he was sick of her and was leaving. She worried wondering if he was going to do something extreme ... while i tried to reassure her that he was serving empty threats on her, I was also worried ...

But the children were fascinated by the beach, and today they hope to see a 'park', and maybe get some new clothes if we manage to go to a clothes shop, and tomorrow they will leave

 Kala and the children will, and about Narendra we will pray that he also follows the medicines, or else that Kala be granted greater strength in future years. We have a long way to go ... the medicines will have to be continued for a long time given the chronic malnourishment/ some way will have to be worked out for Kala to bring up the children, accepting that Narendra will probably always be a liability of sorts ...

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