On 7th February 2018, 15-year-old Mohanraj’s world came crumbling down when his 40-year-old mother Vijaya died of cancer at a government hospital in Dindigul.
He remembers sitting next to his mother’s lifeless body with his 14 -year-old brother Velmurugan begging people to help them cremate their mother. They didn’t have the resources to give their mother a dignified end.
But the cries of the boys were not unheard. Looking at the miserable and helpless state the two kids were in, people came forward and started giving them money.
The boys were moved by the generosity of the people at the hospital, but the collection they made was insufficient to conduct their mother’s last rites. So the boys begged other patients for help as well. When the district collector was informed of the boys’ plight, he joined hands with the citizens and pooled in some more money.
The selfless joint efforts of all of these good samaritans let Mohanraj and Velmurugan cremate their mother at the electric crematorium in Dindigul.
Mohanraj’s father died almost nine years ago, leaving Vijaya to raise her three kids including him, Velmurugan and their 9-year old sister, Kaleeswari.
But Vijaya was a strong woman. Her husband’s death did not deter her from fulfilling her responsibilities as a breadwinner and a mother. She would work tirelessly round the clock to weave baskets and sell them in the local market.
Never once, did she fail to bring food to the table for her three children. But when her health started deteriorating some time ago, Mohanraj was forced to drop out of school in Class 9.
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Speaking to the Times of India, Mohanraj recalls the first time he took a sick Vijaya to Rajaji Hospital in Madurai four months ago.
“I was told that she would have to be accompanied by women as men would not be allowed into the ward,” he said.
When he reached out to his relatives asking if anybody could spare time to accompany him and his sick mother to the hospital, he was met with curt refusals.
Helpless, the boy asked one of the villagers for help. A woman agreed to go with him but for Rs 300 per trip to the hospital.
Mohanraj knew he didn’t have the money to afford it, but he couldn’t let his mother die, could he? So he dropped out of school and started working at a bakery with a daily wage of Rs 200 to save enough to take his mother to the hospital, run the household and look after the education of his siblings.
But Vijaya’s health worsened on Tuesday. In a state of panic, the young boy called an ambulance by dialling 108. But by the time she was rushed to the hospital, Vijaya was pronounced dead.
Speaking to the Times of India, R Packialakshmi, who was among the people who saw the moving exchange happen said, “It was heart-wrenching to see the boys as they looked lost because they did not have money and did not know what to do.”
But the unexpected help and the kindness of people around him after his mother’s death has given Mohanraj’s life a new direction.
“I did not expect my mother to die. Many people including actor Lawrence’s association have come forward to help us. So now I have decided to go back to school and make my mother’s dream come true…Initially, I thought I would have to work to see my sister’s education complete, but with many people coming forward to take care of it, I do not need money. I will join the government school and study,” Mohanraj told TOI.
Feature image (in-set) picture credit: Times of India