It is not uncommon for disabled persons in rural and remote areas to be deprived of their disability benefits by unscrupulous middlemen. Some petty neta (political leader) with a name resembling that of a villain in a B-grade Bollywood movie would approach a disabled person with promises of getting them a UDID (disability card) and would either charge a commission or, if the worst came to the worst, funnel the disability pension into their own account.
We suspect that something of this sort happened with Mamta Yadav (33) from Khamtarai in Chhattisgarh’s Raipur district. She has both intellectual and locomotive disabilities. Our interviewer was wondering why her mother Lal Kusum Yadav (50) was so reluctant to speak to her until she realised that Lal Kusum had assumed that she was a flunky of the local leader who had got Mamta’s UDID made! Why wasn’t she receiving the disability pension although she got the certificate in February 2021? She wanted to know.
It was Dharmendra Yadav (38), Mamta’s husband, who answered many of our questions. Dharmendra, a delivery executive for HPS Logistics, has a 12-hour working day and returns home only by 10 or 11 at night; Sunday is his only day off. A soft-spoken man, he told us that he didn’t meet Mamta before their wedding and didn’t know she had (as her UDID mentions) 75 per cent intellectual disability or (what her UDID doesn’t mention) locomotor issues. In 2006 he was working in Delhi when his father arranged the match. Apparently Mamta’s father Vijay Prasad Yadav told his father, “In our region we don’t have the custom of the boy seeing the girl before marriage.” He added, “Mamta has some problems but she can cook.”
Dharmendra says that fate brought him and Mamta together. “It was kismet,” he told us. “God has a plan for us. He is the one who gives us everything we have.” The couple have three children: Bhavna (13), Ladu Gopal (6) and Aryan (5). Dharmendra bathes the kids, drops them to school and helps in a few domestic chores but it is Lal Kusum who shoulders the heaviest burden. She does all the cooking and cleaning, feeds the kids and helps Mamta with what she is unable to do (she has trouble climbing steps and combing her hair).
Lal Kusum reminisced about Mamta’s birth (“she didn’t cry until many hours after my delivery”) and her early childhood when doctors, who knew she was intellectually disabled, advised the parents: “Feed and take care of her. It’s no use spending money to try to cure her, she is not going to change. At least she doesn’t have any physical disability.” It was Dharmendra who got the UDID ball rolling. About the man who had procured the certificate, Kusum said, “I asked him why we weren’t getting any benefits and he gave some excuse like Mamta does not have a ‘suchit-vala naam’ (proper name?) or something.”
Dharmendra said all his sisters were happily married. He has been living with his in-laws all along; Vijay Prasad’s father, who worked in the Railways, had bought a plot in Raipur on which this house was built. Vijay and Kusum moved here when Mamta was six. Anay, who got a job in the Railways a few months ago, lives with them. The eldest, Om Prakash, lives separately and works in the private sector.
Mamta occasionally flies into a temper when she experiences “some internal disturbance” but speaks lovingly to the kids although she doesn’t know how to take care of them, said Lal Kusum. She ended our chat by appealing to us to help sort out the UDID issue.