Sukhmoti Maran Patel is 38 years old. She is a resident of Lakshmipur village, Pithora tehsil of Mahasamund district, Chhatisgarh. She is married and is the mother of four children. Her husband, Pautram, works as a farm labourer and vegetable vendor. They have a cow and sell milk on the side. Pautram does odd jobs to supplement his earnings.
The family lives in a three room cemented house with a thatched roof. They have a pucca cow shed. Their house has electric supply but the cooking is done on firewood which Pautram collects by making two or three visits to the forest per month.
BITE INCIDENT: Sukhmoti was bitten on the third finger of her right hand on Nov 11, 2013 at twelve noon. The snake was hiding in a bamboo used to support the extended roof. She had gone to hang a bag on a peg nailed to the bamboo when she was bitten. She did not see the snake. But later events, including envenomation of the victim and capture of the snake, proved that it was a spectacled cobra (Naja naja). Pautram had gone to sell vegetables and was not expected back soon. Sukhmoti’s children sent a message to Pautram through a neighbour who also sold vegetables in the same market. The neighbour forgot to convey this very important message to Pautram. He finally remembered after 2 hours. On hearing that his wife had been bitten by a snake Pautram hurried home and reached around 4 p.m. During this time Sukhmoti had drunk copious amounts of water. She was finally taken to the hospital – the Anjali Health Centre in Lahrod, Pithora.
After reaching the hospital Pautram rang his neighbour and requested him to catch the snake and to bring it to the hospital. The neighbour, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva, agreed to catch the snake only if he was given an assurance that it would not be harmed. On getting the assurance he captured the snake from inside the bamboo and tied it to a stick. It was then taken in a procession to the hospital with hundreds of people following.
Sukhmoti was brought to the hospital 5 hours after she was bitten. Her vision had started blurring and she could not recognize anyone. Her tongue was paralyzed and she could hardly breathe. She was administered 6 vials of ASV along with supporting drugs and medicines. She was kept in the hospital under observation for seven days. After she was discharged she visited the hospital regularly for the next three months for treatment of the necrosis which developed in the bite affected area.
Once Sukhmoti ceased to be in a critical condition, the snake was released in a dry river bed. The story could have ended tragically for the bite victim or for the snake but this is a rare case where both survived.
Written by Dev Kumar Vasudevan (as narrated by Priyanka Kadam)