Andher Nagari : Starvation death

    She fought with her younger brother over a small bowl of rice.
   The brother managed to snatch away the rice and the distraught sister – unable to bear the pangs of hunger committed suicide.

   When the family returned from work on Friday night, they found the 18-year-old Gyanwati’s body hanging from the roof.

An empty bowl of rice lay nearby and the son, Chhatrapal, 12, sat close by, filled with remorse and guilt. “I killed her.

   If I had given her the rice, she would not have died,” he muttered as the neighbours gathered around the house. This tragic incident took place on Friday night in Detikar village in Gosainganj area on the outskirts of Lucknow.

   “I had sold all my land to marry off my two elder daughters and I worked in the fields along with my wife Bhagwandei to earn a living but we could never manage a square meal for ourselves and my daughter and son. My daughter Gyanwati used to help me in my work sometimes. On Friday, we had no food in the house except a small bowl of rice. My wife and I left for work without eating and it seems that my daughter and son fought over the bowl of rice. My son ate the rice and left to play with his friends while Gyanwati committed suicide,” Ram Bharose, the head of the family told this correspondent on Saturday.

   According to sources, the local shopkeepers had stopped giving food and other provisions to the family on credit since they had been unable to repay the earlier debt. “But had I known that things would go this way, I would have definitely given some food to the children,” said Prem Tiwari, who runs a tea stall nearby.

   His wife Bhagwandei is still too shocked to react while the youngest son Chhatrapal is overcome with guilt.

The father looked sombre as he said, “Accha hua chali gayi.

   Ek moonh to kam hua (It is good she died. There is one mouth less to feed).” It is then that the reality of this household hits you in the face.

Excerpts from Asian Age 30 Sept 07

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