NEWS

                                     DEVI

This 75 year old (approx) was born in a remote village in Nepal. She had two brothers and one sister. Both brothers died, one with TB and the other for excessive drinking. She does not know where her married younger sister is. She was married to a carpenter in Nepal. The family migrated to a village named Bholatal in Assam Bhutan Border. They joined the house hold of a rich farmer, she as the house maid and he to work in the fields. Her memory is cloudy. She remembers a daughter was born to her at the landlordís house but when we ask her the daughterís whereabouts she gives a blank look. They left the landlord and settled in a small village nearby. She says that her daughter died in this village, but the villagers say that she is alive and married with kids. Her tale of woes started when she lost her husband at the tender age of 21. With her blurred memory she once told that she came back to her parents living in a village called Belkhuti located in Baksha district of Assam. Her mother died when she was 26 and the father remarried. The stepmother started ill treating her and she left her fathers home to walk alone in life. Probably that is the time she lost her mental balance and started loitering on the streets. Inspite of our best efforts we could not ascertain about her life in the intervening 40 years period. We heard about her when a lady of the locality narrated to us about an old woman who the villagers believed to be a haunted witch who becomes violent on full moon days. She lived in the nearby jungles and would come out sporadically begging for food. We found her living on a hay stack in a winter month. The villagers advised us not to approach her since she may turn violent but she was as tame as a rabbit. Her long hairs were knotted; she was wearing a loin cloth. One of her hollowed eyes was injured. Seeing us she tried to run away but we caught hold of her, forcibly brought her to a well, gave her two consecutive baths with soap and water and wrapped her with a clean old sari given by a villager. Initially, she was a big challenge to us since she would not know when to stop eating. And if we tried to control, she turned violent throwing things and hitting her head with whatever she could lay her hands on. Today, Devi is calm and composed, we consider her as the biggest tribute to our efforts. Both her eyes were operated and she is on psychiatric treatment that will continue for the rest of her life. She is hunched but otherwise most radiant of all the residents of Seneh and always ready for a jig whenever we request her to dance!

Devi the sole surviving member of four siblings hail from a remote village in Nepal. She was married to a carpenter in Nepal. The family migrated to a village on the Assam-Bhutan Border and worked for a farmer, she as the house maid and he to work in the fields. Her memory is cloudy. She remembers a daughter was born to her but when we ask her the daughter whereabouts she gives a blank look. They left the landlord and settled in a small village nearby. She says that her daughter died in this village, but the villagers say that she is alive and married with kids. Her tale of woes started when she lost her husband at the tender age 21. With her blurred memory she said she came back to her parents. Her mother died and the father remarried. The stepmother started ill-treating her and she left home to walk alone in life. Probably that is the time she lost her mental balance and started loitering on the streets. In spite of our best efforts we could not ascertain about her life in the intervening 40 years period We heard about her when a lady of the locality narrated to us about an old woman who the villagers believed to be a haunted witch who becomes violent on full moon days. She lived in the nearby jungles and would come out sporadically begging for food. We found her living on a haystack in a winter month. Her long hair was knotted; she was wearing a loin cloth. One of her hollowed eyes was injured. Seeing us she tried to run away but we caught hold of her, forcibly brought her to a well, gave her two consecutive baths with soap and water and wrapped her with a clean old sari given by a villager. Initially, she was a big challenge to us since she would not know when to stop eating. And if we try to control, she turned violent throwing things and hitting her head. Once she hit her head with a brick. The wound required 3 stitches. Today Devi is calm and composed, we consider her as the biggest tribute to our efforts. Both her eyes were operated and she is on psychiatric treatment that will continue for the rest of her life. She is hunched but otherwise most radiant of all the residents of Seneh. She dances and plays the Frisbee with other inmates and helps in cleaning the house. She considers the physical work in the kitchen garden her exclusive right.

       

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