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Farmer had no money for TB treatment

When this Hindustan Times reporter reached Chondipada village in Jawhar taluka on the evening Sitaram Pandu Gavanda (28) committed suicide, villagers had assembled in his hut, lit with a kerosene lamp and a weak electric bulb, to mourn his death.

india Updated: Sep 22, 2010 00:49 IST
Debasish Panigrahi
Debasish Panigrahi
Hindustan Times

When this Hindustan Times reporter reached Chondipada village in Jawhar taluka on the evening Sitaram Pandu Gavanda (28) committed suicide, villagers had assembled in his hut, lit with a kerosene lamp and a weak electric bulb, to mourn his death.

The room was filled with smoke from dried cow dung and incense sticks stuck in the earthen floor near a handful of rice.

“He was poor and not keeping well. He did not have any money,” said Devram Arjun Janjar (20), a neighbour.

His widow, Kamal, who’s sitting with her one-year-old daughter on her lap and her other two children by her side, whispered what happened on the night her husband committed suicide. “Gavanda told Kamal to let the baby sleep next to her on the ground with the other children, instead of in the cradle. When everyone was asleep, he hanged himself,” the villager narrated.

Gavanda’s younger brother Parshuram (25), who works in an imitation jewellery manufacturing unit at Malad (East), had reached the village on hearing of his brother’s death. “Gavanda had recovered from tuberculosis [a disease closely associated with poverty and malnutrition] a few months ago. I spent around Rs 20,000 for his treatment. But recently, he started coughing and the symptoms showed up again,” Parshuram said.

But this time Gavanda did not ask his brother for money as Parshuram is already supporting their youngest brother, and is married and has a family of his own.

Ashok Raghu Mahale, another villager, said the family owns some cultivable land near the village where Gavanda grew paddy for the family. “But the harvest season is four months away. Till then how will they survive?” he said.

Most villagers go to Vasai, Virar or Nalasopara for work and save to tide through the monsoon. “But for the past couple of years Gavanda has not been able to go because of poor health,” Mahale said. “The family has been surviving mostly on the mercy of neighbours.”

The situation turned more grim Gavanda’s son Nilesh (10), who studies in a resident school near Jawhar, fell ill. During the Ganpati break, he came home with fever. A day before he committed suicide, Gavanda asked Kamal to take Nilesh to the taluka hospital for which he gave her Rs 100. “That was all he had. He told me he had to choose between Nilesh and himself,” Kamal said.

First Published: Sep 22, 2010 00:48 IST