Bhubhaneswar: A mother sold her lone pair of gold earrings – which were gifted to her by her mother – to buy a smart phone for her kids to attend the online classes held by schools amid pandemic lockdown.
Residents of Uttara Bateshwar village in Cuttack district, Mason Gagan Bhoi, and his wife said their 13-year-old daughter Archita was unable to get updated with school’s syllabus as they didn’t own a smart phone.
“She was unable to attend the classes because we hadn’t any smart phone. I didn’t know where to find the money for one as the lockdown had reduced my income to zero for three months,” Gagan said to The Telegraph.
“We did not even think of taking loan as the local moneylenders charged exorbitant interest. It was my wife who came to my rescue. She offered to sell her only pair of gold earrings, which her parents had given her during our wedding,” Gagan said.
“We had no choice. The earrings were a wedding gift from my late mother. She had asked me to pass them on to the next generation,” Gagan’s wife Rita said emotionally.
She added: “It was a tough decision to sell them but we had to do it for our child. We have no income now; we haven’t the money even to repair our one-room hut.”
The family of four receives 20kg of rice a month under the below-poverty-line scheme and another 20kg as part of the lockdown relief.
“Both our children (son Biswarajan, 10, and Archita) are growing up and we need nutritious food for them. At this time, buying a phone was difficult. But my daughter’s future is more important than gold earrings,” Rita said, her voice choking.
“I sold it for Rs 8,000 though its market value would not be less than Rs 15,000. But I wanted the money now; I couldn’t afford to wait,” Gagan said.
Archita is happy. “I’m attending the online classes. The teachers send homework in the morning and hold classes for an hour from 11am,” she said.
In another incident, Ramesh Chandra Das, a resident of Veda Lapatua village in Cuttack district, used to sell 3 to 4 litres of milk in the morning and an equal amount in the evening, earning about Rs 250 a day.
But since the lockdown many customers were unable to afford milk. This dried up his income.
Ramesh was therefore forced to sell one of his cows when daughter Varsha Rani, a Class X student, couldn’t attend online classes as the family didn’t had a smart phone.
“Varsha was crying for a smart phone. She wants to be a teacher and needs to attend her classes. So we sold our Jersey cow,” mother Mamata told The Telegraph.
“The cow was with us for several years. We used to sell her milk. But my parents sold it for Rs 15,000 and bought me a phone for Rs 12,000. They spent the rest of the money on books and other study materials for me,” said 15-yr-old Varsha.
“The number of people being pushed towards poverty is increasing day by day. All sources of income have stopped. But parents are continuing to make extreme sacrifices for the sake of their children,” Sudarshan Das, a social activist, said.
School and mass education minister Samir Ranjan Das were informed about the cases. “We are aware of these two cases. Once the situation improves, we can think of addressing the issues,” they told to The Telegraph.