I am back to blogging after a long hiatus. Today would be a great way to kick start my blog again as it happens to be Mental Health Month blog Day and this month is also the Mental Health Awareness Month.
I heard true life story which touched my heart. I want to share it with you as well. Here it goes. In the town of Thiruvella, which is in Kerala , India, lived a wealthy aristocratic family. This family had loving parents blessed with two pretty daughters, Sandhya and Latha. These little girls had a poor maid named Mariamma who helped their Mother with the daily chores. All was well, years rolled by, parents grew older and so did the Mariamma. She never got married for her own personal reasons, she lived with the family despite having a small house of her own. Sandhya and Latha blossomed to beautiful young ladies who where busy with their studies in college in Mumbai.
During the month of July, one rainy night the phone rang and Mariamma answered it. It was a call from Sandhya's hostel warden. Sandhya was ill and she was hospitalised. Mariamma panicked and rushed to tell Sandhya's parents. The parents took the next flight to Mumbai, leaving Mariamma behind to take care of their house. On reaching Mumbai, the parents was received by a highly disturbed Latha. Latha drove them to a mental health care centre. On seeing the board of the centre, the parents were quite shocked as to why they were being brought there, they expected to go to a regular hospital to meet their elder daughter. Latha requested her parents to meet the doctor first before meeting Sandhya. They met the head psychiatrist Dr. Prahlad who was in charge of Sandhya. He told them that their daughter has been diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia. On hearing this the mother fainted and the father stormed out of the doctor's room and took the next flight back to Kerala. On regaining consciousness the mother went to meet Sandhya. She was devastated to see Sandhya's condition. Sandhya wouldnt talk to her and refuse to move from her bed. She looked dazed. The mother wanted to take her back to Kerala but Dr. Prahlad suggested the Sandhya be under observation and medication for some time. The mother stayed with Sandhya at the centre for a while.
After a few weeks the father asked the mother and Latha to come back to Kerala. She went back to Kerala with a heavy heart. On reaching home she realised that her younger daughter, Latha's marriage has been fixed without her consent or her knowledge. Latha was upset, she refused food and water for a few days. Her father cajoled her into consenting to the marriage alliance as it would be difficult for her to get a good alliance if the society came to know about the mental ailment of her elder sister. Within the next ten days Latha got married. The mother was upset with the forced marriage of the younger daughter and the poor health of the older one. The father refused to let the mother to go back to Mumbai after the marriage. He told her to forget that they ever had an older daughter. He said he was ashamed to have a mentally ill child. He told his relatives and friends that Sandhya had died in a car accident has he cremated her in Mumbai. He burnt all the old photos of Sandhya. He wrote a will leaving all his assests only for Latha. The old maid, Mariamma silently witnessed all this drama. One fine day she quit her job and took a train to Mumbai to meet Sandhya. Dr Prahlad permitted Sandhya discharge as she had not shown any improvement and all her medicals bills had not been paid for over a month. He sponsored Sandhya's and Mariamma trip back to Kerala. For the next two years Mariamma did various odd jobs to take care of Sandhya's medical bills, food and clothing. The two of them lived in Mariamma's one bedroom hut. She was getting weak from old age and doing multiple jobs was taking a toll on her health.
Out of the blue the word had spread around about Mariamma's generous heart and an NGO intervened to take care of Sandhya and Mariamma. Mariamma did not want charity, so the head of the NGO negotiated with her pay her in exchange of services rendered. Mariamma now gets a decent salary to take care of her self and Sandhya and the job she chose to do was to make food for physically challenged children.
As for Sandhya' health, she is much better, she has joined the NGO which sheltered her due to the absence of support groups in her town. But she is still on medication. Her father still refuses to acknowledge her presence on this planet. Her mother and sister do not make any attempt to contact her fearing being ostracized from their community.
Its a shame that despite being educated people Sandhya's family has chosen to abandon her due to her mental ailment. In a dark world where we live in going about our daily lives there are heaven sent angels like Mariamma who choose to help despite not being related by blood and overcoming hurdles of social stigma.
Image taken from here
Disclaimer: All names has been changed to protect privacy. Any resemblance to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental.
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