Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Poverty Forced Her To Live On Brick Bites In Tamilnadu

By Selvanatham / Chennai

Born into a poor family with no means for two square meals a day, an octogenarian and her family members had no option but to subsist on pieces of bricks, mud and ash for a long time — and now she has become addicted to it. “I was born in a poor family and at times we had nothing to eat. We used to eat pieces of bricks, mud and ash. Even after my marriage to a daily wage earner, the situation did not change,” said Saraswathi, a resident of Vishwapuram in Thoothukudi in Tamilnadu, who works as a domestic help at several houses in Muthammal Nagar.
“After many years, I am addicted to bricks. I cannot pass a day without eating some. I find bricks from roadsides and other places and munch on it while working,” said Saraswathi, who is uncertain of her age but said she could be over 80. She said she could manage with measly quantities of food, but not without bricks.

After Saraswathi’s husband’s death 20 years ago, her two sons and a daughter abandoned her, following which she was forced to eke out a living for herself.

Surprisingly, the old lady’s unusual habit has never made her ill. “I have never fallen sick and have never been to any hospital. I am still healthy and lift water pots, which I deliver to several houses,” she said.

Ponnusamy, at whose house Saraswathi works, said, “She has been working in the area for the past 20 years. At her age, she is quite healthy and, at times, she lifts eight to ten pots of water for a single house.”

Ponnusamy said he had helped her apply for a government pension six months ago, but received no reply. When asked about it, Saraswathi said she had not got any governm­ent aid. Some people, who were comparatively well off, were receiving pension but she was yet to receive any, she added.

Even if she got monetary help, she couldn’t stop eating bricks, she said. “If I stop eating bricks, I’ll die. My family told me to quit, but I never did, nor would I ever,” she said.

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