Thanks to Fr Darwin Peter, the widows are fast picking up lessons to start life anew.
Thiruvananthapuram: Nearly 24 widows and 49-year-old Stella Mary who lost her 17-year-old son in Cyclone Ockhi look up to S.Sobha, stitching instructor at the Animation Centre at Vallavilai. Since the last two weeks, from 11 am to 3 pm, these widows are being trained in tailoring. Thanks to Fr Darwin Peter, the widows are fast picking up lessons to start life anew.
One-year-old Biphana Bersiga was nudging her mom, Seeliya, out of hunger and sleep. But a shy Seeliya was slightly hesitant to breastfeed her little one while at class. But the moment she was asked about her 31-year-old husband who had gone to the deep sea on November 24 last year, three days prior to Cyclone Ockhi hitting the Kerala and Tamil Nadu coast, emotions welled up. A teary eyed Seeliya recalled that Binu had bought a boat worth Rs 45 lakh along with three other friends. She says she does not know how to go on with her two children and aged parents, Amaladas and Daisy.
“When I am here at the stitching training centre, I try to forget my grief. But the moment I am at home, I feel suffocated. My elder son, five-year-old Bibin Savio keeps asking me every day when his father will return from sea. Usually, my husband used to return in 45 – 60 days time”, said 27-year-old Seeliya.
All the 25 young women in the makeshift stitching training centre at the Animation Centre were silently crying when Seeliya bared her heart to DC. It was tough to decide who to talk to. DC finally spoke to a young girl who could easily pass off as a 15-year-old girl. In chaste Malayalam, she said she was 29, had two toddlers and originally belonged to Valiyathura in Thiruvananthapuram coastal area. She had got married to Sajju, 29, who belongs to Vellavilai four years ago after a love affair.
“I had learned stitching earlier. But now I have learned here how to stitch a sari blouse and churidhar. I do not know what lies ahead as my children, Sigana and Dhaiyonika are three and a half and one and a half years respectively”, said a teary eyed Jeena.
It was heart-wrenching to listen to Stella Mary when she recalled that her 17-year- old son, Dhanish had stayed afloat in the deep sea for more than three days. But with no sign of help from the Coast Guard or the helicopter of the Indian Navy, a tired Dhanish was pulled down into the water while crying out for food and fresh drinking water.
“I wonder why God is punishing all of us. I feel that a huge rock has been placed on my chest. My son had gone along with 10 other fishermen in the boat and eight of them returned. They couldn’t help my son. I don’t want any compensation. I want my son back”, said Stella Mary in a voice which has turned hoarse due to incessant crying.
Already 22 sewing machines have been purchased by Father Darwin Peter’s friends and another eight more will be added soon. Though they were not in a mental frame of mind to talk about their future, Fr. Darwin is hoping that stitching will provide a means of livelihood to these widows.
A majority of these widows’ husbands had gone 150 - 200 nautical miles away from Manjappara near Minicoy Island in Lakshadweep when Cyclone Ockhi hit on November 27 last year.