Sharan Maya Rai died in the cage she was imprisoned in for five years (see pic). This young woman of Shilpakhi village in Baraha became mentally challenged nearly six years ago and her violent fits made her family cage her. When Himal Khabarpatrika first published her story three months ago, philanthropists here and abroad offered to pay for her treatment?all of which her superstitious family turned down. Even the shaman could not treat her, what could a doctor do? asked father-in-law Nak Bahadur.
At the insistence of local social workers, the family finally agreed to take Sharan Maya to Kathmandu, but not before the village medicine man gave another go. People contributed Rs 2200 to cover the cost of travel but by then it was too late for her. Her health, eroded by years of inhumane neglect, gave away and she died before she could leave her cage, much less her village. The fund collected for her treatment will now be used for her three children.
With no one to care for them, the children have been farmed out to relatives. The eldest one has been sent to stay with her aunt, and while the younger two wait for their turn they peer repeatedly into the cage where their mother was kept. The youngest misses her mother and tears stain her face while her brother sits in tightlipped silence.