For the past two months, middle-aged Abdul Ahad Wani of Machhama, a far-flung village of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district in Tral area, is lying on a sick bed inside his mud-bricks and wooden-logs house.
He has been withering in pain in the stomach for a year while his family members left no stone unturned to seek best treatment for his illness.
The pain became severe with each passing day compelling the family to seek treatment from different doctors starting from doctors at local health centre to those at subdistrict hospital in Pampore and ultimately they admitted him in a tertiary care hospital in Srinagar.
After a number of diagnosis, it was detected that Wani was suffering from cancer in the stomach.
“The doctors advised further examinations before initiating a formal treatment,” says Toibeena, one of his five daughters. “All the savings we had were exhausted on his treatment and now we hardly manage to run the affairs of the house.”
Before doctors at the tertiary-care hospital would put him on treatment, the father and daughter duo whisked away without formal discharge from the hospital.
“The expenses were too high for us. We were incurring Rs 11,000 on treatment for a day and we were unable to afford it so we had no option other than taking my father back home,” Toibeena says.
As long as Wani was in good health he used to run a modest shop at Machhama.
The earnings were near sufficient to feed his family of seven members including five daughters and his wife, Misra.
He was working extra hours to save some amount to invest on the schooling of his daughters but when Wani’s health started deteriorating it impacted his family badly as he was bedridden and could not attend the shop anymore.
The first catastrophe of his illness was his two daughters dropped at the secondary school level.
"All that we own is a two-storey house of mud bricks and wooden logs. We have no other source of income,” says Misra, Wani wife who had to barrow Rs 8000 from one of her neighbours for admitting her husband in a Srinagar hospital.
Misra says that after her husband was bed-ridden, she had to work as a manual labourer to manage daily affairs of her house.
Her daughters also assist her but earnings fall short to start Wani’s treatment.
Some good neighbours occasionally help with rupees hundred or two but that cannot make much difference.
The family seeks charity from people during the Ramadan so that they could start treatment of the cancer patient Wani.