Elderly abandoned by their own children seek refuge in DevghatChased out of her home, octogenarian Laxmi Maya Shrestha has been compelled to live out her old age cursing her fate.
“The day my son beat me up stating that he would rather call a dog his mother instead of me, I knew that I did not belong in that house,” said Shrestha, a widow whose husband passed away 15 years ago. According to her, she had come to Devghat as she could no longer live looking over her shoulder fearing for her life as both her son and daughter-in-law were out for her blood. Living at the old age home run by the government, her day is spent participating in religious sermons held during the morning and afternoon every day.
Similar is the tale of 66-year-old Devi Poudel, who hails from Meghauli, Chitwan. Poudel had come to Devghat along with her husband seeking shelter after being subjected to severe humiliation at the hands of their elder son and daughter-in-law nine years ago. However, following the death of her husband five years ago, Poudel feels abandoned and lonesome. While her elder son has migrated to Mumbai, India, her younger son is a migrant worker in Malaysia, or so she has heard as both never pay her a visit.
Likewise, Ramadevi Khatri, 80, has been living in Devghat for more than two decades now. She had come to Devghat after the death of her husband. A mother to six children, three sons and three daughters, she does not know about their condition or whereabouts.
Meanwhile, Subhadra Pudaisaini, 82, of Bhimfedi, Makwanpur was abandoned in Devghat by her own daughter. Pudaisaini had gone into depression after losing her only son, who had died in an accident while on his way to India in search of work. And when her husband brought home a second wife, it only made matters worse and her daughter had left her of at Devghat to save her from the mental torture. According to Pudasaini, her husband had even stripped her off the property that was in her name.
Most of the elderly living at old age homes and huts here happen to be victims of torture meted out to them by their own children, compelling them to seek refuge here in Devghat. This has made Devghat a humble abode for those left in lurch. According to Shailendra Kumar Piya, chairperson of Devghat Area Development Committee, more than 300 such elderly live in old age homes and huts in Chitwan and Tanahun district.
He said the number of daughters visiting the elderly was comparatively higher than the sons.
While most women spend their day making cotton swabs used in lighting ‘diyos’ after dipping them in oil and make a living from the earnings, many spend their days hungry when their products are not sold. Meanwhile, the number of elderly reaching Devghat to spend their last days believing that they will reach heaven if they die here is equally high.