India's poor succumb to the burden of finding a decent livingGiven their policing experience, initially, the officers thought that academics or a failed love affair may have been the likely motive for the suicide, however, it was not. Author : A. Gayatri
When the news of a 20-year-old girl hanging herself to death reached Vakola police, officers started with the usual inquiry and paperwork tediously as the case was amongst several other suicides they have witnessed since the Coronavirus outbreak.
But this case was not like any other, it had its plight. The reason behind why the girl took such a drastic step, left the hardened investigators teary-eyed as the family narrated her story to them.
Kavita (not her real name) didn't wish to amplify her parent's financial debts, seeing them struggle to eke out a living every single day.
Kavita and her three siblings lived with her parents in a 10ft X 10ft room in a Santacruz East slum, which reflected their deplorable living conditions. Investigating police officers Pravin Rane and Bharat Satpute managed to get inside the house and were surprised to see the house clean and tidy. Because of the trauma Kavita's parents weren't stable enough to speak, said Satpute, therefore, they decided to enquire Kavita's siblings to find out the reason for Kavita's suicide.
Given their policing experience, initially, the officers thought that academics or a failed love affair may have been the likely motive for the suicide, however, it was not.
“For some time, Kavita’s youngest brother was the only one who spoke, probably due to his tender age. Then the other siblings began to open up. An image of a young woman determined to give her family a better life came up before our eyes,” said Rane.
Class X student, Kavita's elder sister was married off. Her father is an auto driver and her mother works as a housemaid. They had no monetary funds to make wedding arrangements, so borrowed heavily. As they had no money left to pay for Kavita's junior college, they pleaded and begged for money from acquaintances. Kavita's father could collect Rs 6000 to pay for her Class XI fees. Kavita went on her way to submit her college fees, but returned midway and told her mother that she should start working as her father won't be able to pay back the borrowed money. The very next day Kavita began working at a factory and even managed to save some from her salary.
Things were improving but in 2020 Covid pandemic hit the country and Kavita's family conditions deteriorated as they ran out of work. Meanwhile, Kavita's brother required a smartphone for online classes. As their parents had no money, Kavita quit her studies because she didn't want her brother's education to get halted. So, she asked her mother to sell the gold chain she purchased from her savings and buy a smartphone. Seeing Kavita's gesture towards her brother, her mother was in tears, however, she declined her request.
“Her parents had found a match for Kavita, and the gold chain was the only piece of jewellery they had for her wedding. Kavita quickly realised that her parents would have to borrow heavily for the second time for a wedding. The stress gave her headaches and acidity. Eventually, she decided to end her life (by hanging in the hope that it would lighten her family’s financial burden,” said Rane.
Touched by Kavita's story, Rane posted a long emotional note online that moved many who read it. While some have also offered to help Kavita's family financially as a homage to her.
The story definitely is heartbreaking but does every poverty-stricken person's life should end up like this? Though the government has introduced several schemes for the poor and unemployed, is it reaching and benefiting them? Who would guarantee that the poor in real life are getting the advantages of all the schemes the government is bringing in.
The story not only points towards the incompetence of the administration showing its unpreparedness to handle the destitute, but it also underlines the miserable conditions people in India are forced to live in.
Despite having no livelihood to feed themselves, people tend to enlarge the family. Given to feed more mouths, than the earning caused more such conflicts. Such awful living situations lead to depression and sadness in people. In addition, all this leads to mental illness. But less is done to address the invisible pain that every human is suffering.
The elite class has the resources to bear expensive treatments, on the other hand, the poor just have to carry the burden of not only being poor, earning the daily bread but also letting everything pass without speaking about it.
The onus comes on the government to look after the needs of every citizen, from providing employment, better education and bringing firm population control rules so that people from every strata receive the advantages of a life worth living. Otherwise, only the rich will enjoy the sweetness of life while the poor would succumb like worms.