The woman who was found dead on the premises of Kottayam Medical College recently had a heart-rending story that no one knew. Identified as Thrikkodithanam Pottassery native Ponnamma, she was a mother who had been searching for her long-lost son. She worked as a lottery seller and left her home to find him. She kept looking for the face of her son, who would be 30 years old now, among the thousands of people who came to the medical college every day.
This story came to light through Annie Babu, the director of women’s shelter home Santhwanam at Kottayam. Nine years ago, Ponnamma came to Santhwanam with her three little grandchildren. Her only demand was some food and education for the children and safe shelter. When asked about her life, Ponnamma burst into tears, Annie Babu remembers.
Ponnamma was in search of her son who went missing when he was 12. She believed that medical college would be an ideal place to search for him. Ponnamma came rushing whenever unidentified patients or seriously injured were brought to the hospital. She also searched among the dead bodies brought for post-mortem.
Ponnamma used to call her daughter Sandhya every night. She visited her house last time on July 3 and returned by evening. When she failed to call Sandhya as usual, she searched the houses where Ponnamma is likely to visit, but in vain. When she did not have any clue even after a few days, Sandhya contacted ‘Santhwanam’. On their direction, she informed the police.
Ponnamma separated from her husband Gopi years ago. Sandhya also was married, but got separated after having three children. With this, Ponnamma approached Santhwanam with her grandchildren. Once she entrusted the children in safe shelters, she started selling lotteries.
It was then, Ponnamma had an affair with Sathyan, whom the police are interrogating now in connection with her death. Sathyan and Ponnamma had been living together for 12 years, Sandhya said.
A lottery seller, Sathyan used to fight with Ponnamma and manhandle her. Then she would shift her stay to the female ward of the medical college. Sandhya said that her mother had an asset of three chains, six rings, a talisman, bracelet and Rs 40,000.
‘She never had a habit of eating out. She depended on the free food served in the hospital. She purchased gold ornaments with the money she earned through lottery selling and kept them safe,’ Sandhya said.
‘Mother had about 10 sovereigns of gold ornaments and Rs 40,000 as savings. She wore the ornaments and money bag tied to her waist always. Also she kept some gold with a jewellery in Kottayam. She was saving everything for me and my kids. She was saving the money for marrying off my daughters and building a house,’ Sandhya said weeping.
Ponnamma had a 3-cent land in Thrikkodithanam. She was planning to build a house there and live with her daughter. Only two of her sisters are alive. Very few relatives visited her at the hospital.