WEEKS AFTER his photograph, carrying his dead wife on his shoulders, made national headlines, Dana Majhi, a tribal farmer from Kalahandi, appeared in another photograph today — holding a cheque of Rs 8.9 lakh, as promised by Bahrain Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa.
Majhi, 45, went to the Bahrain Embassy in New Delhi to receive the Bank of Bahrain and Kuwait cheque on Thursday. “I am feeling very happy. I will keep this money in the bank for the education of my three daughters. I hope they get good education and jobs,” said Majhi, after catching an Air India flight to Bhubaneswar in the evening.
With his youngest daughter, Chauli, ailing, Majhi was anxious to board the overnight bus to Bhawanipatna, the district headquarters of Kalahandi, from where he has to make his way to his home in Melghar village.
Majhi’s wife, Amangdei, who was suffering from tuberculosis, died on August 24. “When my wife died, I and my daughter, Chandini, 12, cried for help. Someone told us to take her (wife) away, so I wrapped the body in a lungi, and carried her,” he told The Indian Express last month.
Since then, help has poured in, from individuals and organisations. The district administration has granted Rs 75,000 under the Pradhan Mantri Grameen Awas Yojana. “We have given him Rs 20,000 under the National Family Benefit Scheme,” said Bhawanipatna Sub-Collector Sukanta Tripathy. He has got another Rs 50,000 from the Red Cross fund and other state government schemes.
Sulabh International has opened a five-year fixed deposit account for him, and reportedly promised monthly assistance of Rs 10,000 for his daughter Chandini. An unknown donor from Maharashtra has deposited Rs 80,000 in his bank account and got him four term deposit certificates of Rs 10,000 each in his and his daughters’ names. Though the district administration got his three daughters admitted in a government-run school with hostel facilities, the Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences has promised free education at its Bhubaneswar campus.
A little bewildered by the turn of events and the sudden attention on him, Majhi is not sure of what lies ahead. “I am a tribal man. I don’t know what one lakh means. I will stay with my nephew and sister and work in the field to grow millet. But what hurts me is my neighbours’ taunts… they say I have become rich,” he said.