The story of an elderly woman, clutching on to a packet of biscuit and a cloth bag, as she waited to catch a ‘shramik special’ to Delhi from Mumbai’s Bandra railway station, had moved many in early June.
Abandoned by her son, Leelavati Devi, 70, was among thousands stranded across India as cities and towns were brought to a halt to contain the pandemic.
Almost two months on, she has found a home in Delhi’s North Avenue, just metres from the Rashtrapati Bhavan, after being taken in by an unlikely benefactor — AAP’s Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh.
“She will be with us from now on. This will be her permanent home,” Singh, flanked by his wife Anita Devi, told The Indian Express last month.
After returning, Devi had tested positive for Covid and spent two weeks at the Rajiv Gandhi Super Speciality hospital, Singh said. A Delhi family initially took her in, but could not keep her for unspecified reasons, following which Singh decided to bring her home.
“The entire episode shows the erosion in moral values and human values in our society. And that worries me,” Singh said.
Devi said she moved to Mumbai before the lockdown to look after her eldest son, an auto driver, who was unwell. “He stays with his wife and children. Over time, his health improved. When I was no longer needed, I was thrown out,” she said.
Her two other sons live in Delhi. “My travails started after my husband passed away. My children think I am mentally unwell. No one wants to keep me.”
She said only her elder daughter has met her so far: “She told me I look unwell, I told her not to worry.”
At his official residence in North Avenue, Singh stays with his wife, two children and his parents. “Leelavati mostly spends time chatting with the family. Her elder daughter did reach out a few times; no one else has. How can we send her back to people who ill-treated her? She is a part of the family now,” said Ajit Tyagi, a close aide of the AAP leader.
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