Dana Majhi’s hands shivered as he held on to a cheque of Rs 8.8 lakh in front of the numerous flashing cameras, notepads, smartphones, microphones and a bevy of the Capital’s top journalists.
Maybe the centralised AC of the central Delhi five-star hotel wasn’t something he was used to. Or this unwanted fame, which got him to not only on board a plane but even travel outside Odisha for the first time in his life. Or the mere burden of an otherwise light piece of paper with an assurance of a colossal amount of money.
For over an hour at the tea lounge in Delhi’s Ashoka Hotel on Thursday, Majhi entertained every request – interviews, live telecasts, even a little walk.
Dressed in a blue lungi, a white shirt, a gamcha and rubber sandals, the diminutive man held his own in what appeared to be a set out of a plush fashion show.
Last month, Majhi made national headlines when, on being refused an ambulance by the district hospital in Kalahandi, he decided to carry his wife’s corpse on his shoulder and walk to his village for her last rites.
‘How are you feeling?’ ‘Kaisa lag raha hai aapko?’ The frail man looked frailer every time one of the translators asked him in Odiya about his feelings on getting monetary aid, the most recent one being from the King of Bahrain.
It might have been the skipped lunch due to the busy schedule -- barely a few hours in the Capital and another Air India flight to catch. But hunger was probably no stranger to the farmer from Kalahandi, where monthly incomes are about Rs 1,500.
He was nervous but looked more burdened. The grief was visible in his eyes that appeared waiting to burst, to howl in pain. The way his daughter’s haunting cries, which reached millions and grabbed India’s limited attention, shook his universe.