Dana Majhi, Who Carried His Dead Wife, Has Money Now. Not Much Else.

Dana Majhi with his 5-year-old daughter.
Highlights
  • Dana Majhi is something of a legend in Kalahandi now
  • He has received Rs 9 lakh from various government schemes
  • He wishes to use the money for his daughters' education

Melghar : The door to Dana Majhi’s empty one-room mud hut is always unlocked. Despite being given Rs 9 lakh from various government schemes and private donations after his wife’s death, there is nothing valuable in here – a change of clothes, a pair of shoes that aren’t slippers.

The only thing that can’t be replaced is the memory of his dead wife, whose picture hangs on a blank, mouldy wall.

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Dana Majhi’s wife died of tuberculosis. She was 42.

It was her body, wrapped in a sheet, that Dana Majhi was carrying home from a hospital 80 km away, when he was intercepted by a television crew last month. The photographs had haunted India, raising multiple questions about dignity in death for the nation’s poor and the role of the government and the healthcare system.

Now, rather late in the day, Dana Majhi has come to more money than he has had in his entire life.

So what would you do if you were Dana Majhi and received such a fortune? Buy a car? There are no roads in Melghar village. Invest in essentials like a fan or a fridge? There’s no electricity either.

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Dana Majhi with his three daughters.

Dana Majhi has decided to get his three daughters educated – something that has been a dream for the farm labourer so far.

But it also means a painful parting – education, too, is not available in the village. The girls will have to go away to state capital Bhubaneswar – 13 hours away, leaving him alone.

10-year-old Sonai still breaks down at the mention of her mother. Yet to come to terms with losing her mother, Sonai fears going away from her father. “I will miss my father,” she says simply.

Her 14-yr-old older sister Chandani, who was captured on camera walking beside her father on his 10 km trek carrying her mother’s body, is stoic. His youngest daughter is 5-year-old.

But Dana Majhi is clear about what he wants for his daughters. “I will educate them. What will they do here? They should have a better life,” he said.

Dana Majhi had to walk 10 kilometres with his wife's body on his shoulder.
Dana Majhi had to walk 10 kilometres with his wife’s body on his shoulder.

In Kalahandi, Dana Majhi is now something of a legend. People wait on roads to catch a glimpse of him. Many speculate that he will be made village sarpanch or given a ticket in the next elections.

His neighbours happily recalled that on the 10th day after his wife’s death, as part of the last rites, Majhi had invited them for a traditional meal. Two goats and a quintal of chicken were prepared. Dana Majhi’s misfortune meant that they slept on full stomachs that night.

There are many Dana Majhis in Kalahandi. The absolute and stubborn poverty of Odisha is like the proverbial multi-headed monster – cut one off and another immediately grows in its place.

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Getting an ambulance service still an issue at the district hospital where Dana Majhi’s wife breathed her last.

At the Bhavanipatna District headquarter hospital, where Dana Majhi had brought his sick wife as a last resort, similar scenes are still visible.

Brothers Kanhaiya and Ravi Bagh sit desolately by their father’s dead body wrapped in a blanket. He died at 1 am and they have been waiting for 7 hours for an ambulance to take them home as per the state government’s Mahaparayana scheme.

 

25 COMMENTS

  1. 8,90,000 was donated by the Prime Minister of Bahrain, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa and not by any of your government agencies. So pls report the facts. Shame on you for giving the credit to your government which is busy saving cows.

  2. He received RS 9lacs from Bank of Bahrain and it is Delhi Embassy. NDTV embarrassed to mention who donated that money because it is anti media to mention any good done by a Muslim nation.

    However, Muslim or non Muslim. I pray no one gets through this pain again. But India doesn’t fail to repeat the same…

  3. Wishing majhi good health and courage to bring up his daughters well and educate them as pepr their wishes.
    wishing the daughters a bright and peaceful future

  4. Its really indian. King of Bahrain gave him the Money and NDTV didnt report it. Govt grant and donations??????
    shame NDTV .. becoming like TIMES

  5. Variuos Government agencies?? Come one.
    king of Bahrain gave him the money and you didnt Report this. Are you becoming like TIMES NOW.

  6. Thanks NDTV for bringing this heart touching facts to the lime light. Salute to the courage & decision of Dana Majhi. God bless him & his family. Wonderful & right decision to educate his daughters.

    Both Govt. should ensure to eradicate poverty from our country and provide these basic needs to the poor villagers. Then only our country can grow from the core.

  7. 9 lakhs given by Bahrain Prince and 2 other educational Organisations sponsoring for the girls education. This news not giving full info.

  8. It is most heartbreaking story. Tears swell.
    May God bless you sir, and your family and we can only hope the government does something fast to alleviate your suffering that of the whole village.

  9. Really – all 9 lakhs of the donations and Govt grants reached Dana Manjhi? Are you kidding me? No one asked him for bribe – that is so unIndian like.

  10. Dana Majhi – respect to you. By thinking pragmatically and deciding to educate your daughters, you have ensured they will have a better future and shown yourself to be a true family man. May your wife rest in peace and may the rest of your life be comfortable.

    Wonder when our country will be free from this crushing poverty.

    • It is not just poverty. Suppression of minorities. For centuries we marginalised sections of people in the name of ‘lower caste’ and made them as ‘untouchables’. We are continuing to suppress them by depriving them of education, health or justice. Privileged people in India are not poor and they do not even accept that they are living in a ‘poor country’.

      • I disagree to a certain extent. There have been upliftment of underprivileged for many years, but all goes in politicians pockets. They are the real culprit. Please do not blame others.

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