VAIKOM: The three brothers were reclining in their cots in a small room that hardly had any light. With great difficulty, Vijayappan, the eldest one could stand, helped by his youngest brother Kunjumon.
The raised position of the bed catches the eye first. It was built to help Vijayappan get up from the bed. But it is of no use now as someone has to be there to help him put his feet to the ground.
On another bed, the legs of which were raised on two pieces of bricks each, sat Babu, younger to Vijayappan. He used a stick that had a string tied to the windows to open it, letting some light into the room. The three brothers in Chemmanathkara, in TV Puram panchayat in Vaikom, are stricken with muscular dystrophy — a disease that slowly gnaws on the muscles of the body, making a person unable to move without help. A slow progressive disease that makes a person totally unable to go about their daily chores.
Vijayappan, 49, has not stepped out of the room for the past 10 years. Babu, 46, has not gone out for the last four years. The youngest Kunjumon at 30 years, manages to move about still. He walks down the road to the nearest junction about 100 metres away to give some exercise for his muscles. “Once you sit down, it is difficult to get up”, he says.
Eating food is a long process as the hands just cannot be bent to touch the mouth. Fingers don’t hold things well. It is their 79-year-old mother, who tends them as she had done when they were babies. The frail old Sumathi Amma is the one who helps them to go to the toilet. The position of the closet was adjusted to suit their need. The three are among the five brothers and a sister in the family. The dystrophy-affected brothers are hoping that some organisation will provide them a shelter so that their eldest brother who looks after them now can lead a proper life with his family.