When two-years-old, T. Shaktivel loses his father and mother in two successive days, and nine years later, dies of snakebite. K. Manikandan narrates a poignant story from Jalladanpettai
The life story of T. Shaktivel, the 11-year-old snakebite victim from Jalladanpettai, has the elements of an epic tragedy. He was a two-year-old when he lost his father and mother in two successive days.
Sakthivel’s father M. Tirumalai, once prosperous, fell on hard times, sold the lands he owned in Jalladanpettai and moved into a rented house. Tirumalai found a job as painter and was striving to regain financial stability, when tragedy struck in an unexpected manner. After Ayudha Pooja celebrations in 2004, Tirumalai was on his way to Kandigai in a government bus that was involved in a collision with a lorry carrying sharp steel plates. Tirumalai was among several people killed in that headline-grabbing accident.
The very next day, Sakthivel’s mother, Valliammal, who was five months pregnant, immolated herself as she was unable to bear the harassment of her husband’s close relatives who blamed her for being “the curse that brought about her husband’s death.”
Following this poignant turn of events, little Sakthivel came under the care of his paternal uncle M. Bhaskaran, an electrician with two children of his own to take care of.
On October 12, when a cart containing Sakthivel’s body was taken to the cremation shed, the neighbourhood of Anjaneya Nagar was blanketed in deep sorrow. Many of its residents are aware of the tragedies that had overtaken Tirumalai’s family.
It may be recalled that Shathivel was bitten by a venomous snake an hour past Wednesday midnight and died two days later. His close relatives took him to three hospitals, one of them a primary health care centre, where the boy could not be treated for various reasons. With precious time lost in finding the right hospital, the boy was provided treatment at children’s hospital in Egmore, where he passed away.
Doctors at Chromepet General Hospital said the boy’s relatives should have brought him to them straightaway as the hospital had sufficient anti-snake venom vials.