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Maharashtra: Family's elders give up food so children can survive

The 35-year-old Ashabai Ighore is sole bread-winner for her family of six. The resident of Landhalain Nagnath taluka in Hingoli, some 450 km from Mumbai, says the elders are now giving up food for the children, so that at least the next generation can survive.

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Sudhir Suryawanshi

Updated: Sep 24, 2015, 02:32 PM IST

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The 35-year-old Ashabai Ighore is sole bread-winner for her family of six. The resident of Landhalain Nagnath taluka in Hingoli, some 450 km from Mumbai, says the elders are now giving up food for the children, so that at least the next generation can survive.

"We are frustrated and fed up with this continuous starvation. How long can we skip the meals?" rued Ashabai. Nobody has committed suicide in this village of 500 people but the day doesn't seem too far.

Ashabai's husband Santosh (40) is mentally challenged. "He cannot go to work. My mother-in-law is old and complains of headache and body pain all the time. We want to take her to a hospital but there is no money. She spends the entire day lying down. I have a son, Bharat (9), and daughter Aarati (4). Bharat is very good in studies. He is in Class IV. The school here teaches only up to Class IV. After that, students have to go to neighbouring village Aundha. The drought has not only snatched our meals, but our kids' future too. He might have to quit studies to support the family," she said.

Ashabai's father-in-law Prahalad (65) cannot stop himself from visiting their four acres of land, now gone barren. "He cannot hear properly. He keeps going to the dry land and often breaks down. There has been no harvest in the last three years. Practically, we are landless farmers," she said. She added that mere survival has become the priority instead of education. "We have to repay a loan of Rs2 lakh. We have cut down our meal so that our kids can survive," she lamented.

Her brother-in-law Ganesh had joined as an electrician with the government a few months ago on a monthly salary of Rs 5,000. "We were happy. We thought our condition will finally change, and we will be able to have two meals in a day, educate the children and return all debt. But it was not in our destiny. Within three months of getting the job, he died of electrocution," she said. Ganesh's death plunged his mother into deep depression. "We console her but she wants to die. She has lost all hope of living," said Ashabai.

Meanwhile in the village, almost all wells and tube-wells have dried up. "A tube-well around 300-500 metre deep gives only a few buckets of water in a day. The local panchayat had dug a tube-well, but we have to stand in a queue for hours for one bucket of water. Sometimes, we wake up in the middle of the night to get the water. During daytime, people fight with each other over a few drops," said Ashabai.

She further lamented, "There are no sugar factories or industries in our area. For the last two months, we have been sitting at home idle. It is really frustrating. The money lenders knock on our doors every morning. The grocer has stopped giving us any item. We have stopped having tea, so that we can buy some rice."
 

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