India’s snakebite problem

India’s snakebite problem

At first Chaitali Majhi thought her boys were joking. But after they showed identical symptoms—drowsiness, nausea, stomach and body-ache—she knew it was serious and immediately rushed her sons to an ojha, a faith healer of the village. When the shaman’s mantras failed to improve their conditions, they rushed the boys to the local Raidighi Rural Hospital. The doctors said the boys were bitten by a snake—a three-and-half feet long common krait was also recovered from a corner of their room—and referred them to the sub-divisional hospital at Diamond Harbour, almost 45 kilometres away. By the time they reached the hospital, the boys convulsed and died. Bikram was 12 and his brother Pritam was nine.

This was in September last year.

Earlier in July, her next-door neighbour Dipankar Majhi was woken up by his sister-in-law at 4 a.m. His 17-year-old nephew, Bikash Majhi, was sick. Something had bitten him, his leg was in pain, and he complained of nausea and stomach ache. Amid pouring rain, he rushed Bikash on his motorcycle to the Raidighi hospital. They said it was snakebite and referred the case to the Diamond Harbour Hospital. The doctors at the sub-divisional hospital said Bikash would need dialysis and referred him to a bigger hospital in Kolkata.

By the time they reached the SSKM Hospital, 45 kilometres from there, his nephew was dead.

Click on the link above to read more of the story published in Fountain Ink magazine.

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