Survivor Series: I never got the respect I was looking for from the city due to leprosy
In this week’s episode of Survivor Series, we bring to you the story of a leprosy patient named Kanta, and how she faced challenges from the society.
My name is Kanta. I would have told you my age, but all I can say is that I am old enough to not remember my age. I live with my five kids in Leprosy Colony in Delhi.
I am originally from a village close to Hyderabad, a place where my brothers and sisters still live. Being asked to leave one’s village at a young age makes you realise how cruel life can be sometimes.
My only sin? To be infected by a medical condition that people didn’t understand at that time. I have had leprosy since I was young. Once my hands started getting deformed, the adults in my village started calling me a witch who had ‘kushtarog’ (Leprosy). I was exiled and forced to live a life that was away from my friends and family.
I came to Delhi when someone told me about a community that supported leprosy patients and helped them deal with the symptoms. It was a terrifying decision at that time. Someone told me it was about 1500 km between Delhi and Hyderabad. and for me, those were the 1500 km that stood between me and a life of respect. I have lived here for more than 35 years now.
I got married and had five children, and my husband supported us until my sons got old enough to work. He passed away later. Now, my sons are the ones supporting the family. A lot of people ask me if my boys take care of me, and I tell them all the same thing – if they wish to take care of me, it is their choice; if they do not wish to take care of me, they do not have a choice. I am their mother, and they have to take care of me.
I never got the life of respect that I was looking for from the city, but I got a life of respect from this colony and from my family – all 135 of them (people living in Leprosy colony). It may seem like I have had a difficult life, but believe me when I say, I was one of the lucky ones.
Leprosy limits my movements, the nerve damage in my hand is permanent and I develop ulcers on my feet when I stand for too long. For most families in this colony, the person with leprosy is expected to earn a living, but I always had the support of my husband, and now, my sons.
This little community of ours has not just helped me find a place to live, but it has given me the paradise I always wanted. A paradise where every angel is a member of my family. A paradise that lacks the riches, but for a leprosy patient, every ounce of respect is the true wealth and I have that in abundance.
Edited by Megha Reddy