Now, she wants to write about farmers' agonies
NAGPUR: In 1998 Ramdas Ambarwar, a farmer at Telang Takli village in Kelapur taluka of Yavatmal district, committed suicide unable to bear the piling debt burden. He was the only bread-earner and with his death the world came crashing down for his widow Saraswati and four daughters. Their youngest daughter, Manju, was just over five then. Since that day, life has been an endless struggle for the Ambarwar family.
For Manju, now 19, Wednesday brought a ray of hope as she secured admission in journalism course of Nagpur University. "I want to pursue journalism. That way I can chronicle life and times of Vidarbha farmers. As the daughter of a farmer who committed suicide, I have seen it all from close quarters and suffered every moment," Manju told TOI. She wants to sensitize people and the government about the miserable conditions in which farmers depending on vagaries of nature and mercy of policymakers have to live.
"After father's death, mother had to look after the farming work and also run the family. She did not buckle down and gave us all strength to get along in life. She arranged for marriage of two of my elder sisters Sushma and Meenakshi after they had studied up to Class XII. My third sister, Jayshree, was in XII when a serious kidney ailment struck her. Mother wanted her to pursue a professional course as she was a science student. But Jayshree could not survive. Another of my mother's dream was shattered," said Manju. The already distressed family could hardly afford the costly medical treatment and got into even more financial trouble.
Amid all this, the youngest sibling continued her studies. After primary education in the village, she went to nearby Umri to study up to XII and then commuted daily by ST bus to Pandharkawda for the college. This year she graduated in arts. Visibly happy after securing admission to bachelor of mass communication course at the University campus here, she feels she is a step closer to her ambition of being a journalist. "As a kid, I was impressed by the reporters who regularly visited our home to write about farmer suicides in Yavatmal district. I made up my mind to be a journalist and write on the issue from my personal experience of pain and sufferings," said Manju.
"I remember, soon after father's suicide the then chief minister Narayan Rane came to our village. At a function organized to hand over compensation cheque of Rs 1 lakh several promises for welfare of farmers were made. Among the promises that were never kept was the one providing free education for children of farm suicide victims," she recalled.
"Thank god for the grit and courage of my mother that we survived the hard times. Also Kishore Tiwari and his Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti came to our rescue and stood by my mother. I have no idea how I will meet the cost of studying and living in a big city like Nagpur. I only hope I realize my ambition and lend a helping hand to my mother back in the village," says Manju.