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Alcoholic turns counsellor in Bihar, ‘remarries’ wife

Addicted to alcohol for 27 years, Jai Govind Singh has not only kicked the habit but has also become a successful counsellor persuading other addicts to do the same.

india Updated: Oct 22, 2016 18:55 IST
Prasun K Mishra
Prasun K Mishra
Bihar liquor ban,Alcoholic turns counsellor,Dhongi baba
Dhongi Baba with wife and daughter after remarriage(HT Photo)

An alcoholic for more than a quarter century, middle-aged Jai Govind Singh has today kicked the habit. At 51, the man from southwest Bihar runs a de-addiction centre in Sasaram.

The dramatic change is courtesy chief minister Nitish Kumar’s implementation of prohibition—an election promise.

So many turns happened down the drunkard-to-counsellor story for Singh, who married three decades ago. A couple of years after he wedded Vijayanta Devi in 1985, Singh became a regular drinker and wife-beater. “So much so, the woman abandoned him in 2003 along with our infant daughter Ishika,” he recalls.

The desertion made things worse for Singh. He sank into a cocktail of alcohol and narcotics, wearing black and declaring himself a sadhu. The wayward ways earned him the nickname ‘Dhongi Baba’.

Then, 13 years thence, the present regime clamped prohibition—from April 1. It forced Singh to fight withdrawal symptoms. “A well-wisher advised me to consume hot milk with turmeric at night. The tip worked.”

Dhongi Baba during one of the counselling sessions (HT Photo)

Emerging from 27 years of alcoholism, a new life sprouted within Singh ahead of this monsoon, but he was clouded by remorse. The man wanted his family back.

Ishika, having grown into a 17-year-old, took the initiative for the family reunion. Her mother put up a demand: she would return to her husband with a ‘baarat’. The wedding procession did happen with frolic from the Devi’s paternal home at Dehri, so did the full-ritual ‘re-marriage’ at Singh’s Sasaram home on April 18.

On August 15, Singh opened ‘Dhongi Baba Nasha Mukti Paramarsh Kendra’ at Mahaddiganj in Sasaram town. “I have succeeded in 14 cases so far,” he adds.

Chimes in Devi: “Our CM reunited us.”

Dhongi Baba with daughter at his de-addiction centre (HT Photo)

And so this time, it was Vijayanta who brought a ‘baarat’ from her paternal home at Dehri on April 18 and the marriage was performed with full rituals and a grand feast at the house of the ‘Baba’ at Sasaram.

Singh opened a de-addiction centre in a room of his house on August 15 this year where he counsels addicts every Monday.

“Earlier, I’d wish I had liquor. Now my only mission is to provide higher education to my daughter and help people in quitting alcohol,” Singh insisted.

His wife is overjoyed with the development.

“I have no words to thank chief minister Nitish Kumar for the liquor ban. He reunited my family and saved the future of my child. Like me, many other women and children of Bihar are supporting the ban,” she said.

First Published: Oct 22, 2016 18:55 IST