75-yr-old, moved by story of family of missing patient, rides 300 km to help
Bhubaneswar: When Madhusudan Patra last week read a news item in a local Odia daily about the story of a woman looking for her husband, the family’s sole bread earner missing for a month, the 75-year-old farmer knew he had to do something. It took him some time to figure out how.
By Friday, Madhusudan Patra mobilised ₹10,000 from his savings, loaded a trunk on his rickety moped and set out from Biranchipur village in the coastal district of Ganjam.
His destination was 300 km away, a village in Jagatsinghpur district where Gandharba Jena’s family lived.
Gandharba Jena, 65, had gone missing sometime around May 21 when the Covid patient was shifted from a local hospital to the government-run SCB Medical College and Hospital in Cuttack. His family knocked on all the doors that they could for the past month, but there was no trace of Jena, who made a living by weaving bamboo baskets that were sold at the village market. The family had been struggling to make ends meet.
It took Madhusudan Patra 10 hours to reach the village. Jena’s wife Shanti was surprised at her benefactor.
“He said God willing my husband would come back. He also told me not to cry and then gave ₹10,000,” she said.
Jena’s daughter Jhili, in her early thirties, said Patra’s help at the time of their distress was something they can never forget.
“We have been seeking help from the local police station as well as the block office about my father, but no one helped us in tracing my father. But an old person living hundreds of kilometres away came to help us,” Jhili said.
Madhusudan Patra spent the night with Jena’s family and left for home in Ganjam on his two-wheeler on Saturday. He did become a bit of a local celebrity when word of his gesture was reported in the local media.
Patra is modest, saying that he just wanted to help a poor family. “Travelling 300 km was no big deal,” he said.
“I have some land in my village, but no children. So I have been helping people during the lockdown.”.