This is the story of Yashodhara Kadu, a 21-year-old young mother from Mumbai, Maharashtra. Yashodhara was married to Chottu Kadu on 10th May 2014. She was a local girl and shifted to her in-law’s place in Aarey Milk Colony’s hamlet called Jiwacha Pada. It is situated on a slope with tiny huts built at different levels connected by narrow cobbled pathways built in a step-like fashion. The entire hamlet is spread within a 500 meter radius. The inhabitants dump garbage in open spaces inside the hamlet. This attracts feral animals and rodents. And the feral animals and rodents attract predators like leopards and snakes.
Bite incident: 11th July 2017 was just another day and Chottu Kadu was getting ready for work. He has been working as a delivery boy at The Cha House in Goregaon East since the last 7 years. He left home around 11.30 am. Yashodhara asked him to have lunch but he was in a hurry. She was busy putting out clothes to dry. Little did Chottu know that this was the last time he would see his wife alive.
Yashodhara and Chotu Kadu along with their 7-month toddler, Avani, lived in a mud hut surrounded by shrubs and vegetable climbers. Since the dwelling was made of mud and bamboo, rodents easily burrowed in and around the house.
Around 1 pm Yashodhara went to catch a nap after having her lunch. She was lying on the floor breastfeeding her daughter Avani when she felt a sharp pain on her upper back. Since she couldn’t see the bite area, she ran to a neighbor to ask them to check her back as she was experiencing pain in the bite area. The neighbors could see two distinctive fang marks from where blood seemed to ooze out. They said it looked like a snakebite. Hearing this, Yashodhara panicked and began to weep out of extreme anxiety. By now more neighbors had gathered. The onlookers hurried to take her to the hospital which was a few kms away.
As the hamlet is on a slope Yashodhara was carried uphill till the main road from where she was taken to the Balasaheb Thackeray Trauma Centre situated on the Western Express Highway, Jogeshwari (East) by auto rickshaw. The group reached the hospital within 30 minutes of the bite. Chottu was informed and asked to come directly to the hospital. He reached the hospital in 15 minutes. Doctors in the casualty ward declared Yashodhara dead on arrival.
Yashodhara’s body was sent from Thackeray Trauma Centre to the Siddharth Hospital in Goregaon East for a post mortem. The police also arrived to investigate the cause of death. Yashodhara’s body was handed over to Chottu and family the same evening and she was cremated around 12.30 am.
The family was nervous about Avani’s health as she was suckling on her mother’s breast when the bite had occurred. She was admitted to the hospital and kept under observation for a day.
During the time that the incident had occurred, Avani was solely on breast milk. In the coming days she suffered stomach upset and general ill health as she was taken care of by family and friends. Today she is 15 months old and lives with Chottu’s cousin’s family. Chottu has abandoned the mud house where he lived and has shifted to another residence. The family struggles to bring up a child who is too young to grieve her mother’s death.
Within a few weeks of the tragic incident, different NGOs in Mumbai came together to work on a mitigation plan for better medical facilities and community awareness regarding snakebites in the 27 hamlets situated in Aarey Milk Colony. Snakebite Healing and Education Society conducted the first Snakebite Awareness workshop at the community centre in Jiwacha Pada within a month of the tragic incident.
Written by Priyanka Kadam as narrated by Chottu Kadu