SHILLONG, Dec 2 - The feeble sunrays struggled to pierce the wintry clouds on a gloomy Shillong afternoon and faintly accentuated the dark circles underneath S Deka�s weathered eyes.
She walked down the stairs leading to the Directorate of Social Welfare office in the State capital here unhurriedly. Dressed in a cotton saree, the tall lanky middle-aged lady smiled and packed one of her clenched fist into the other and rolled it coyly. �I came for the money for the single mothers. I didn�t get��, she muttered.
Deka is a single mother, besides 30,283 others in this hilly State of Meghalaya. Her husband passed away some years back. He was a casual worker with little to no monetary savings. �I live in the makeshift home that my employer gave me and my son to stay. What I earn is not enough,� Deka smiled, which vanished in despair.
All through the afternoon elderly and middle-aged women walked in and out of the Directorate at Lower Lachumiere and faded in the late afternoon with the Sun � dejected.
Daughter of A Nongseij came on behalf of her elderly mother. �The last time my mother received the monthly benefit of Rs 500 for single mothers under the Chief Minister�s Social Assistance scheme was in June 2017,� she said.
Deka and some like her asked if it could be found out why their meagre Rs 500 is being withheld by the Government. A query posed to the youngest Cabinet Minister in the NPP-led Government, Kyrmen Shylla, who holds the Social Welfare portfolio, brought out an answer to the mystery.
�I have sent the file for clearance to the Finance department long time back. I am waiting for the sanctioned amount,� Shylla said. The monthly amount for the single mothers has now accumulated to several crore of rupees. Incidentally, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma holds the Finance portfolio. �I will inquire about it from Conrad Sir about the file,� Shylla, a first time Minister, said.
Now, if the truth be told to Deka and all the single mothers that the Government has just gifted itself upgraded versions of vehicles costing in all over Rs 78 lakh this year, many probably wouldn�t be able to figure out the Math.
For them what comes easily is an amount that is Rs 500 per month which works up to Rs 6,000 annually and comfort means a decent piping hot meal in a cold winter and not upgrading from one Sedan to another.
It would again be difficult to explain to Nongseij and others that the Government argues that the upgraded vehicles are required to provide better governance for people like them and also the infirm and persons with disabilities, who have also not received their monthly benefits for a year now!
The Dekas and the Nongseijs, the ever-uncomplaining lot, will wait another day, give way to speeding luxury Sedans and walk through their struggle and retire into the cold night with just hopes that the winter would be a little less harsh this year.