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Rebuff from kin, relief in death

She would cry and beg her family members to take her away from the depressing home for the destitute. They kept turning down her request, because for them, she was “the fallen one”.

On Sunday, Anju Pal’s mother and other family members were inconsolable as they waited outside the Liluah Home for Destitute Women, for the 25-year-old’s lifeless body.

A rape victim who gave birth to a son a year ago, Anju died on Saturday. Over the past fortnight, she had refused food and water, and shut all doors to the world around her, including the baby boy for whom she had been abandoned by her family and ostracised by her society.

Otherwise “sound of body and mind”, the breaking point for Anju came when her mother appeared before the Liluah Home authorities in response to repeated requests that she be taken back home.

Ota ekta nashto meye, ota ekta paap, oke pherot nile samaje mukh dekhabo ki kore' (She is a fallen woman. If we take her back, how will we face society)'” Anju heard her mother tell the officials.

Recounting the incident, Liluah Home authorities said till that day, Anju had hoped that she would return home to a neighbourhood under the Jadavpur police station. But after hearing her mother dismiss her as “a sin”, she retreated into a shell, from which she never emerged.

“She landed here about a year and a half ago, in an advanced stage of pregnancy. She gave birth to a boy and after a few months, began requesting us to make arrangements for her release. She was quite desperate to return home,” said Seuli Bala, superintendent of Liluah Home.

“On her insistence, we sent several messages to her mother, requesting her to take Anju back. The lack of response clearly suggested that they did not want to take her back. But Anju refused to believe this and insisted that we arrange a meeting with her mother,” added Bala.

Anju’s father, Manik Pal, had died a few years ago and the girl was “extremely attached” to her mother. When she finally came to the Home, Anju clung to her, crying: “Ma, amake bari niye chalo (Mother, please take me home).” But her mother’s utterances dashed all hopes that Anju had been living on.

She went cold when her mother said she had shamed the family and refused to take her back. “O, aami to tomader katha bhabie ni… Tomader koto ashubidha hobe.” (Oh, I had not seen things from your point of view at all. Yes, it will be a real bother for you),” she quietly said.

Soon after her mother’s visit, Anju stopped eating. She would not come out of her room and spent almost all her time lying on the bed, with her eyes shut. She would not respond even when her son would cry out, Home officials said.

As she stopped drinking water, too, Anju developed various complications, including a renal condition and low blood pressure. She was removed to hospital on January 9. She died on Saturday. On Sunday, Anju’s mother could not stop crying as she waited to take her daughter home for the last time. But it was all too late.

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