“There are more unwell children than me, I shouldn’t complain”- Says 18 YO Mohini Dasade who has rheumatoid arthritis
Written by Payal Paikrao | Translated by Alka Gadgil |
However, this adage is not universally applicable. But you start pondering when you face adversity continually. The question ‘why me’ haunts you. The words of sympathy bear no meaning. Yet there are people who keep up hope. But from where do they get the strength to face hardship? We do not know. When your life is full of problems how do you make amends for them? Let us listen to the story of the courageous 18 YO Mohini who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis.
36-year-old Drupada Dasade mother of Mohini who is from the Nanded district of the Marathwada region of Maharashtra was married at the age of 14. She came to Mumbai after marriage. Despite hardships, her spirit has not waned. She is adept at taking adversity in her stride. She has three children- two daughters and a son. Her day starts at 5 am when she leaves home for work. She cooks meals for a couple of households and they relish her food. She heads home at 9 for preparing a meal for her own family. Then she leaves at 10 and comes back home only at 2 pm. She must start work again at 4 pm for cooking evening meals. She hardly gets time for herself and is burdened with so much responsibility that at times she feels like giving it all up. But harsh reality strikes back. She has to keep working for her children. ‘I have to keep taking care of Mohini who is terminally ill. She gives me strength to carry on.’
Drupada was only 15 when she gave birth to Mohini. She says she vaguely remembers how her daughter was born. Mohini is intelligent, unusual, and strong like her mother. Since she has arthritis Mohini is not able to walk or sit on the floor easily and if she tries to do that it hurts. But she never complains in fact she was eager to narrate her story. She is also a very good artist and she has done a lot of sketches and drawings. ‘As a child, I was very healthy; I used to take part in various competitions like sports, elocution, drawing, and dance. I used to stand first or second in those. I had many friends and I used to spend a lot of time with them. I like the English language and I feel I should have proficiency in that language. When I was in seventh standard, I was healthy and hearty. But as soon as summer vacation started, I fell ill. I had a high fever. Mother took me to the doctor. The fever receded but I had trouble walking and slowly my gait slowed down. I find it difficult to do everyday things like bathing or dressing. But my mother has continued the consultation because the doctor has told us that there is a possibility of full or partial remission.
Drupada was all of 25 when she learned about Mohini’s condition. She did all she could for her daughter’s treatment but Mohini’s suffering did not subside. Her husband was of little help because he is an alcoholic. Mohini had to seek help from others for her daughter’s treatment. During that period, she had to sell her family jewel. Her friends from her village also lent support. At that juncture, Dhrupada had to take the tough decision of relocating to Mumbai because back in Marathwada advanced treatment was not available. She had two options in front of her to stay put in her village or head to Mumbai. She relocated to the Mumbai region. But family and friends warned her- ‘you are young, your husband is an alcoholic. How will you be able to make ends meet? Where would you live?’
But Drupada was resolute, she had decided to give Mohini the best treatment available. She was admitted to Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Hospital at Vashi- (New Mumbai). Mohini however, was everyone’s favorite in the hospital. Seeing the smile on her face, she did not seem to be patient. Her mother used to dress her up every day with a new type of braid and clean clothes. On festival day Drupada used to draw rangoli in the ward. She used to chitchat with the patients and their relatives, doctors, nurses, and ward boys. Considering her economic status, the hospital offered treatment at the least possible cost. But it was still difficult for her to pull on. Then she started looking for work. The first job she found was construction work. After working there for a few days, she got a job in a mess. She used to wash dishes and utensils. Then she got work in a household as domestic help and then more work came in. She started saving money for her daughter’s treatment. To augment her income, she also did night duty in a hospital. Her good-for-nothing husband started taunting and abusing her. On top of it, he started asking for money. She endured her husband’s abuse and continued being his wife because leaving him was not a choice she could make. Society does not treat single women well. They have to deal with many insults and abuses. Her employers- the households in which she works are empathetic. They understand her situation. She feels like a member of those families. Mohini is very optimistic about her treatment. She believes that she is going to come out of her present condition. But till then she has to go through the ordeal. ‘I used to feel sad about my state but when I saw other children, I felt ashamed. There are people in this world who are worse off than me. My illness is reversible but there are children who are terminally ill. I draw a lot of inspiration from my mother. She is my pillar. She has the guts and grit to fight the system.
It is really inspiring and admirable to see her stand so strongly with her mother despite her struggles.
The writer is from Maharashtra. Share your feedback on firstname.lastname@example.org
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