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Yearning for a life and death of dignity

Bindu Shajan Perappadan
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Eighty-year-old Kasturi Devi was turned away by her elder daughter and is now surviving on the generosity of an NGO

Kasturi Devi has been taken in by an NGO after being abandoned by her family.Photo: Monica Tiwari
Kasturi Devi has been taken in by an NGO after being abandoned by her family.Photo: Monica Tiwari

A month after being abandoned by her elder daughter, 80-year-old Kasturi Devi has no relief in sight either from her family or the Delhi Government.

She spent almost 48 hours waiting for her daughter to take her in at their multi-storey Aya Nagar house but was eventually turned away. She is now living on the generosity of a couple who head non-government organisation Mata–Pita Samman Sewa, which works for the welfare of senior citizens and had rescued Kasturi on the night of September 12.

Kasturi still holds the hope that her younger daughter, who she hasn’t heard from in nearly a decade, will come forward to take care of her.

Speaking of her plight, Kasturi says: “Several years ago my elder daughter sold off my two-room accommodation and I was forced to shift in with my sister’s daughter. I stayed there for several years but was dropped off at my elder daughter’s home. My daughter refused to take me in, saying that I was not her real mother and that she was my adopted child. She also refused to give me shelter, food or any money. I have no income of my own and am now totally dependent on strangers to stay alive.”

The neighbours of Kasturi’s elder daughter say she used to be humiliated and ill-treated whenever she visited the residence in the past.

“I have been living here for 15 years now and every single time Kasturi came here she was humiliated by her elder daughter. This September she just refused to take her mother in. In fact when we intervened, she screamed at us,” a neighbour said.

When The Hindu tried to speak with Kasturi’s elder daughter at her house, she refused to open the main door or entertain any questions. Kasturi’s younger daughter is untraceable despite efforts being made by Mata–Pita Samman Sewa founder D.P. Sharma. “We have tried to track this woman but so far we haven’t had any luck. Kasturi tells us that she has had no contact with her for over a decade now,” he says.

Her abandonment, according to Kasturi, has only added to her health woes.

“I can’t see well, my glasses are broken and there is no one and no money to fix it. I can’t hear well, my blood pressure has gone higher due to all the stress and anxiety, and I have a problem with my hip joints which makes the simple task of sitting or walking almost impossible,” she says.

Now waiting for some relief from the courts, Kasturi says: “It’s a crime to grow old. I had often heard stories about boys abandoning their old parents, but daughters abandoning their widowed mother seems worse. I don’t want anything from anyone, I just want a life and death of dignity, where I don’t have to depend on the whims and fancies and generosity of strangers for even a glass of water.”


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