Friday, October 17, 2014

Of dark ages . . .

Recently, we’ve had quite a lot of debates about propriety of having a mission to Mars when quite a large part of the country is so backward and in dire poverty. Of course, the Mangalyan program is commendable and we all are proud of it. However, I strongly feel that stories of neglect and backwardness of our great nation have to be shared. The major reason being the fact that a widening gap between the rich and the poor is something which could hamper the progress of the nation.

So, stories of 2 families in this series .  . . The first one . . .

BB, a 3 week old child was brought by his parents more than a week back. It was so obvious that BB was very very sick. He was not crying and only had a blank stare on his face. Of course, he was not feeding. BB has been sick since the previous day afternoon. BB was brought to the clinic where I sit twice a week the previous evening. However, since I was away, the nurses had referred him to a higher centre.

BB’s parents were very poor. They had taken him to a wizard and he told them that he needs some costly procedures to be done. They had no money to take the baby to a higher centre or to pay the wizard.

We had no choice but to admit the child. By God’s grace, he responded well to antibiotics. However, as soon as the baby was active, the parents wanted to take him home. Later, we came to know that a grandparent had suggested that he be also shown to the wizard so that the disease is completely cured and therefore the urgency to go home.

The parents left with the baby with a promise that he would be brought twice a day for his intravenous antibiotics. They kept their promise. However, the next day, the parents were very anxious to meet me. They narrated to us that the witch doctor has taken out a dozen pieces of bones from the baby’s stomach which was causing all the disease.

They were very confident that the baby will be totally alright now. One of colleagues was quite flabbergasted at their story. He gave them a good piece of his mind.

However, it was quite obvious that they very much believed what the witch doctor has told them.
Occult in its various forms are quite common in our country. However, the poor suffer from it the most. BB’s parents told me that the cost of ‘taking out the stones’ was couple of country chicken which costs a minimum of 600 INR.

We commonly hear about worse forms of occult practice. Elderly women, mostly widows are branded as witches when something untoward happens to someone. These women are hounded, beaten up and in many instances mercilessly killed. One police officer told me of an incident where a widow was decapitated and the head was brought to the police station by the entire village, and nobody could do anything about it. Even, FIRs (first information report) are filed against suspected witches for ill-happenings. And the police are at a loss to do anything.

I wish that witch-craft is something that needs to be dealt with in rural communities of the country. It is not easy. It would need quite a lot of advocacy among the community and its leaders and the success in eradicating it would need community support. However, the benefits would be quite a lot.

The second story in my next post . . . 

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