TODAY -

Healing Touch: A case of still to outreach

Mamta Lukram *



Disseminating anecdotal accounts of a marginalised widow, from a village pocket yearning for attention, sometimes prove fixing in an ethical dilemma. Especially when the inference of divulging person's eroding dignity juxtaposes with the life's reality. Every little act of kindness, few words of love could serve as healing ointments to the ailing life. Critiques may be way ahead for the purposive explanations. Reach outs for an inclusive society and seeking immediate attention are the plain intentions.

Getting down at Khongjom Bazar; a passenger service changeover for Tekcham leads its way westward to Sapam, in Thoubal district around 37 km away from Imphal. A visit served the opportunity of meeting a small women gathering, meant for constituting themselves into Self-Help Group. Informal interaction was the onset which later percolated to personal matters; the crux. It was amongst the group, a young woman in shabby look did attend with a notion of taken-for-granted everyone's preference. Later realised, it was through their collective support that the lady was enabled to join the group, exempting her from the fixed contribution.

A widow of around 40 years is Sapam Sunita from Sapam Laibung Maning Leikai, whose husband passed away in a fateful road accident 4 years back, survived by one son and two daughters. Originally from Laimanai is Mayengbam Sunita Devi, the fifth children of Mayengbam Maimu singh and (L) Mayengbam Jabo Devi. She got married to Sapam Sanatomba Singh, the only son, out of five children of Sapam Shyam Singh and Sapam Thambalsang Devi in October, 2007.

Sanamatum's golden days in an old frame
Sanamatum's golden days in an old frame



Hopeful were early part of the lives with a healthy son, Sapam Sanamatum Singh, followed by a twin sisters Sapam Babita and Babina. The reversal of fate gripped when Sanamatum was two years and three months old, when he fell sick one day suddenly. Constrained by poor transport facilities, the family took the kid to a medical practitioner. They further searched for options, however, delayed medical accessibility deteriorated the health condition. Finally the family admitted Sanamatum to a private hospital in ICU ward.

In the post-recovery situation, Sanamatum became totally disabled. Unable to control her emotion, the young widow narrated her accounts:
"Hanna chen-chongduna sannaramba, wa nganglamba echase ngasidi fibam chadre (my kid who have been running, playing and chattering merrily, is now totally disabled). (...a control expression...yet tears filling up her eyes) Doctor's recommendation was regular intense physiotherapy exercise for three years without break. We took him to Guahati for treatment, tried for a long-term physiotherapy exercise, the consultant doctor say we did have the hope. When we started his treatment, (..sobbing...in a break-up voice) Sanamtum's father passed away in a fatal accident"

 Sanamatum at present
Sanamatum at present



On 25th July 2014, around 7.30 am, Sapam Sanatomba, Sunita's husband meted a road accident. He was riding a motorcycle to visit his younger sister's residence at Thoubal. On the way, one 'Tata Magic' passenger vehicle crashed with his motorcycle and Sanatomba succumbed. The sole ray of hope of the whole family; Sunita, her disabled son and daughter's ray of hope pulverised.

Nursing the disabled son, Sunita have been shouldering solely every odds of life, since 2014. The stereotypic conception of 'woman' keeps waiting for humanitarian assistance during hard times is a mismatched connotation. She yearns to work, earn, and support the family's sustenance, however nursing Sanamatum forbids her.

Holding Sanamatum in her lap, giving medicines, Sunita shares;
"(holding the kids arms and tapping) He is growing! I did try engaging myself in daily wage earning agricultural activities, usually mornings. He cried! He's unfamiliar with anyone except me and his grandma. He is comfortable with only one out of the twin sisters, but she can't handle, she is too small, aboveall she have to attend school too. These constraints bind me within. I want to work. (...a managed impression..a heavy sigh..)Days when I am unable to support medicines for him, pharmacy would owe the medicines as debts. Lifelong medicine support and accessibility woes overburdened me. Pharmacy provides the medicines which they say they procure it via Gauhati. (...a breaking voice...)They are so synonymous of life support for my son. (...stopping for a while, continues...) 'Mapa leiringeidadi' when his father was alive, we started having the treatment showing signs of improvements where he could have sit around 5 minutes without support. I wish I could earn and treat him. Life on charity is a compulsion not a choice. I am a woman; I know the cut, wound and the scars. But I can't deny the situation. So, I resign my life to fate"

Sanamatum in his mother's lap
Sanamatum in his mother's lap



The narrative continues with the education provisions of the little twin girls; Babita and Babina. A success story of how a web of human relations forming a chain could support fellowbeing's sustainability is the education support of the little girls. The two little girls are currently attending a private school, accommodating in daily van service. Appreciating is the heart of the van driver who provides a concession of one student, relieving the mother to pay only one student's charge for both, years long. And for the school monthly fee, Moirangthem Rebika Devi from Tentha, a family friend supported it.

 The twin sisters, Babina and Babita
The twin sisters, Babina and Babita



Life at Present

Life seems to have no choice left for Sunita. Neither could she work to earn, forbidden by the paralysed son, nor could she run away leaving behind the two growing daughters. Helplessness binds her within. The old traumatised in-laws, hardly able to come out of the haunting memories of the accident coupled by the shock of the paralysed grandson, are in the whirlpool of depression. The myth of ill fate befallen in the family; restricted themselves unattended. The only unearned support they could render to the young widow is caring Sanamatum. They shut themselves tight, unresponsive.

One wheelchair from the government's side is the only assistance the family received so far. The disability certificate which they obtained through personal endeavour proves useful till this extent. Beyond which the avail of widow pension, disability pension, other assistance packages, they have no idea. According to the Sunita, she was being asked for the possession of certain documents; later enquiry for the process of obtaining which was followed a confused response of either appearing at Porompat, Thoubal or Kakching. The limited economy, manpower and the unfavourable situations hindered dreaming of obtaining the documents, dropping hopes of getting 'cards,' which according to her is the prime basis for becoming a bona fide part of the many packages.

"Where/How should I go? Whom I should meet to obtain the documents?" are the disheartening self-queries. She contents with the assertion that each passing day resembles fading hope of her son's recovery; the need for procuring those delayed documents, she feels has no meaning. When circumstantial inconveniences shade every grid of life, verbal instructions she don't dare to bother. Her perceptions of all those too many instructions are mere sentiment pokers. Recently when her family was asked to ensemble a set of documents, to make them attend a programme which as per Sunita; few people say they can be beneficiaries, she spend around Rs 200 for getting the documents Xerox copied, the post-scenario of which she feel wastage portion from the meagre family's expenses.

Irresistible to the unconditional tears, spontaneously filling up her eyes and running down the cheeks, she shares;
(in a breaking voice...) I am thinking about weaving 'fadi'(traditional towel)which is less demanding, time saving, cheap and easily manageable. I wish if I could work, earn, and carry forward the treatment of my son and career of my daughters. I still do have hope and faith in myself that if I am given a chance to have a try for my son's treatment, I can bargain my life for his treatment'

 The family together in a frame
The family together in a frame



Overwhelming are her accounts, bewilder is the life situation. When a van driver could sacrifice one kid's fare, when a family friend could support monthly school fees and when poor fellow women sought preferences for her, how could she be still left out? Any provision for assistance; widow pension, disability pension, Hakselgi Tengbang, Sotharabasinggi Tengbang, khungang chatsi, or whatever packages if there is any, she is the most deserving citizen. The International Mother's Day observations, if there are spaces for single mothers; she deserves a seat.

"Out of Reach, Is out of Question" is an appreciating initiative. Sunita must not also be left out of reach. When the state is filled with welfare oriented packages, 'left out due to information gaps' let's say sorry to it. A clarion of a wailing lady is seeking immediate attention. Even if not assistance packages, our social brethrens, words of love and little deeds of kindness will be the healing antidote of this wounded heart.

 Sunita with her future rays of hope
Sunita with her future rays of hope




* Mamta Lukram wrote this article for e-pao.net
The writer can be reached at mamtalukram(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was posted on May 17th, 2018.


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