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The Brilliant Daughter

Aarti Jelia was a 14 yr old student of Class 9. She lived in Khilchipur village in Dist Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan. This is a largish village with an approx. population of 10 thousand villagers. Khilchipur has four Government schools and six private schools. Aarti was the third child. She had two older sisters and a younger brother.

Image: Priyanka Kadam

Image: Priyanka Kadam, Snakebite Healing & Education Society

Bite Incident:  On 6th Sept 2012, as a part of her daily routine, Aarti went to help in the fields for some time. On return, she studied a bit, had her dinner and went to sleep around 10.30pm. The three girls used to sleep on single cots next to each other. Aarti’s cot was in the middle. A little after midnight, she felt a slight pain on her left thumb. Aarti switched on the light and looked for what had bitten her. She woke her other sisters. They found an adult Common Krait (highly venomous snake) coiled under the pillow of the elder sister.

Parma Devi, Aarti’s mother panicked when she saw the snake. Her husband was away for some work. The four kids and mother huddled in one corner of the room. Meanwhile the snake remained coiled on the bed in the same place for more than 3 hours. It was finally killed by a neighbor. Aarti started showing envenomation signs after almost 4 hours from the bite. Relatives and neighbors advised Parma Devi to call the local faith healer.

The healer performed rituals on Aarti. Her condition kept deteriorating. She suffered pain in her throat and abdomen. Her breathing became labored. Aarti’s condition kept deteriorating and she breathed her last around 5pm. She was taken to the Government Hospital in Alampur, Sawai Madhopur where she was declared dead on arrival.

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Parma Devi, Mother of Aarti Jelia. Image: Priyanka Kadam, Snakebite Healing & Education Society

 

The family was devastated. Aarti was the brightest amongst her siblings. Parma Devi worked hard in a local cottage industry called Dastakal Kendra to ensure her children get good education, especially Aarti who showed a lot of promise.

In the following days, Parma Devi was advised to engage the faith healer once again to ensure no bad luck befell on her family in future. The healer charged her Rs 3K to insulate all corners of her house with the power of his mantras.Image: Priyanka Kadam

Image: Priyanka Kadam, Snakebite Healing & Education Society

2 years after this tragic loss, in 2014, one of Parma Devi’s daughter trained to be a nurse and started working in a local hospital. She saw many cases of snakebite envenomation wherein patients were brought to the hospital, and survived. The girls lament that if they would have taken their kid sister to the hospital, she would be live today.

The author of this story met Parma Devi, Aarti Jelia’s mother when she was conducting a snakebite awareness workshop at Dastakal Kendra in Ranthambore, Sawai Madhopur. Parma Devi shared her own experience which made the author visit the Jelia house out of curiosity as Parma Devi mentioned they still see snakes around their house.  The two-roomed cottage was creatively built with beautiful flower shrubs adorning the porch. Similar bushy plants variegated the garden which also had a few medium sized trees. One tree grew close to the house, its branches reaching out to the windows and the roof. Tendrils of a creeper growing on the tree were spread out on the roof. On one side of the compound wall was a stack of unused bricks piled up for future use. This was a perfect habitat for a snake to free range and call it home.Image: Priyanka Kadam

Image: Priyanka Kadam, Snakebite Healing & Education Society

The author suggested to Parma Devi and her son to cut the shrubs close to the house and the garden pathway and prune the trees touching their dwelling. She also advised not to grow creepers in close proximity of the house as such plants act as a support to facilitate free movement of snakes. The author also suggested to clear all debris in and around the house to ensure rodents and snakes do not seek shelter in the lose pile.

 

Written byPriyanka Kadam

Field Coordinator : Govardhan Meena, Sanctuary Asia.

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