Sunday, 1 June 2014

Song by a grandma with unconditional love

1st June 2014- I thought it was a just another Sunday for me. But a different evening for me. I was in Virdhunagar to interact with members of elders self help group. It was an overwhelming moment for me. Valliamma from Vellalore village in Virudhunagar sang a song. Tears welled up my eyes as she was singing and mentioned me in the song as a person who could take care of elders more than their own children. She sang that ‘Pramila is like Prithianga Devi’ who would support deprived elders like her own grandfather and grandmother. I was touched. My grandfather Ramu came to my mind and I could feel him. He was telling me that he was very much present in the hall and was hearing the song by Valliamma. Thathas and Pattis present there were all in smiles.

What have I done to steal  her heart is the following story: on 26th January 2010, I published an investigation article in my newspaper Deccan Chronicle on how many elders in Virudhunagar, down south district of Tamil Nadu, were killed by their own families in the name of a traditional killing practice- Thalaikoothal.(Bathing the sick old man or woman in cold water and force feed coconut water to the elder. The aged person would suffer renal failure and die within a day). Young people who did not wish to go through this elaborate process opted to kill the elders with lethal injection availing the ‘service’ of quacks. In my story I revealed my risky trips to talk to such quacks and seeking their help to kill my grandpa. A quack who agreed to ‘help’ me promised that her injection would work effectively and she was successful in her earlier attempts.

After this story, the district administration asked its officials to come up with census of elders in the district and ensured every single death of elders should be properly investigated by the local authorities. My friend R.Elango of  Helpage India, who gave the tip off about the killings, and I wanted to bring change in the lives of elders beyond the news reporting. Now over 500 elders self help groups were formed in Virudhunagar. Regular meetings are conducted by these groups which give an opportunity to elders to share their sorrows and happiness. Every member in the group supports another needy elder. The Sunday evening meet was one such meet and Valliamma was one of the members of the group who electrified the people with her song.