Sixty three-year-old renowned Marathi poet and firebrand writer Namdeo Dhasal is battling with colorectal cancer. After months of being in and out of hospitals, he is now admitted to the Bombay Hospital.
According to one of his relatives, they are finding it very difficult to arrange the money required for his treatment. The medical bills are expected to exceed Rs10 lakh. Dhasal was one of the founders of the militant Dalit Panther movement which emerged out of the casteist riots in Worli’s BDD chawls in the late ‘60s. He is also a pioneer of the Dalit literature movement known for its deep concern for the underprivileged.
The Padma Shri award winner also has a medical history of myasthenia gravis which is one of the lesser known auto-immune disorders. The hallmark of this disease is muscle weakness, which worsens during periods of activity and improves after periods of rest. Muscles that control eye and eyelid movement, facial expression, chewing, talking, and swallowing are especially susceptible.
The muscles that control breathing, neck and limb movements can also be affected. In 2007, Dhasal was ill and admitted to the same hospital. His medical bill ran into lakhs of rupees and his wife, Mallika Amar Sheikh, was about to sell their house. On learning about his state, actors Amitabh Bachchan and Salman Khan raised Rs6 lakh and helped him.
There is a sense of deja vu now, with his medical bill going up to Rs10 lakh and his family not knowing how to foot the bill. The doctors, meanwhile, are trying to control the cancer cells from spreading into his digestive tract. “I never saved money all my life and never compromised my principles for political gain.
Whatever I earned through my writings, I spent on the progressive movement. When I fell sick, my friends came to my rescue. But now, the bill is to the tune of Rs10 lakh and I do not know where am I going to get the money,’’ Dhasal told dna on Saturday.
“Since one month my digestive system is not working properly. I started passing blood.
That was when I decided to consult doctors who diagnosed my ailment as colorectal cancer. Surgery is an option, but I cannot be given general anaesthesia because of my myasthena gravis,’’ he said.
Dhasal, a political activist belonging to the Dalit Panther Party is a poet and writer. He received the Nehru award for his book ‘Golpitha’. In 2004, he was awarded the prestigious Sahitya Akadami award for his contribution for literature.
“Dhasal’s condition is stable at the moment. He is slated to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy for his cancer and the expenses may escalate,” said Dr Sagar Sakle, officer on special duty at Bombay Hospital.