The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Lives doomed in hero’s death

The city may have discovered a hero in the death of Shankar Pal, but for his family, hopelessness, not heroism, is the terrible truth to live on with.

The three-member family in the thatched-roof, single-room home at 11/5, Shahid Sunil Sen Sarani, would barely eke out a living and was more often than not at the mercy of the landlady to retain its residence.

At last count, the Pals owed Shibani Mandal more than Rs 5,000 for the premises.

Shankar’s death threatens to push the family further and faster into the pit of penury. From a three-member family with one earning member to a mother and 10-year-old son with no visible source of sustenance, life changed cruelly for Kamala Pal and young Joydeep in a few hours.

Kamala has retreated to her parents’ place at Arjunpur, on the other side of VIP Road. The Pals were a fragmented family — Shankar’s mother and sister lived separately a little distance away — and Kamala cried on Sunday that staying on in their rented room was impossible.

But how long can she and her son stay on in the two rooms housing Kamala’s mother Uttara Naskar and her three brothers, two of whom are married'

“I do not really know what I am going to do,” Kamala admitted on Sunday. “My mother’s place does not seem to have any room for me and the place where I used to stay with my husband costs more than I earn,” she said, adding after a pause that she earned “nothing”.

Her landlady confirmed what Kamala said. “The Pals owe me last month’s rent (Rs 150) and Rs 5,000 as unpaid power bills for the past three years,” said Shibani Mandal. “It looks unlikely that they will be able to stay here.”

The next casualty could be Joydeep’s chance to work towards a better life. The 10-year-old is now staring at the prospect of a life without Little Gems School, the English-medium school in the locality that he attends.

But in the few hours since his father died a violent death, the boy seemed to have realised that there was no point fighting ill fortune. Already on his way to being uprooted from the Kaltala residence in Baguiati, that has been home, Joydeep sat quietly by his mother at her parents’ place on Sunday.

The Class V student said he would hate to give up on his school but would “accept” what lay in store for him.

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