Despite his weakness, 8-year-old Kushal wakes up every morning with a smile on his face to go to school with his older brother Thaksha (10), who holds his hand and drops him to his class to make sure he’s fine. Kushal can’t write or play the activities that other children do, but he still insists on going to school. “On some days he can barely write a few words, but his school has been very understanding. They let him be a part of the class because he loves it so much,” says Sridhar. Meena, Thaksha and he are very protective of Kushal – not only because he’s the youngest, but also because his disease is making him weaker by the day and each day without the transplant is an uncertain one.
A grave diagnosis and a failing business changed the fate of this familyThe only time 8-year-old Kushal has his meals without creating a fuss is when his father Sridhar feeds him. No matter how late it is, Kushal would wait for Sridhar to get back home from work and to eat his favourite bisi bele baath (rice based dish) from his hands. And no matter how exhausted Sridhar was, he would plaster a smile on his face before entering his house. Along with his son’s deteriorating health, Sridhar has experienced tremendous loss in his earlier work. But despite everything, his only priority is to do all he can to ensure his son is healthy.
“It began with severe pain in his legs. Slowly his legs started swelling and he couldn’t even walk. His fever spiked. He was in the hospital for days. That was the same time I was going through a trying time with my business. I tried my best but failed. At that moment I thought I wouldn’t be able to afford my son’s treatment. We soon found out that his pain was not going to be short-lived.” – Sridhar
Kushal has been diagnosed with sickle cell anaemia, a condition in which the red blood cells die early, causing a shortage of healthy cells in the body.
Kushal and his older brother
The cure that’s out of their reachGone are the days when Sridhar, Meena and their two sons would spend their Sunday’s going on picnics or spending their time in the nearby park, followed by a special chocolate treat for the boys. Now all they can do is remember those days with sadness, and wonder if they’ll ever get them back. However, Kushal can be cured with a bone marrow transplant, but his parents are struggling.
“But we can’t afford his treatment at all. My wife works in a garment factory and I work at a private company. Both our incomes put together isn’t enough to afford the treatment he needs. Even if we save for years, we wouldn’t be able to afford it.” - Sridhar