Knock, Knock
“Who‘s there?”

“Hunger who?”

“Santoshi hai?”
“You alone?”

“Na, na, Aadhar is with me”
“Aadhar beta you only explain to him. He’s after Santoshi.”

“Open the door or I’ll break it!”
“But Santoshi is not at home. She’s gone to school”

There is a burst of laughter, “O ho! Beti parhao, beti bachao, haan?”
“You go away from here. You are mean just like the ration shop owner. Help me Aadhar beta, help me!”

No more knocks. The darkness falls quite.
And then a feeble voice from inside the shanty, “bhaat, bhaat, bhaat.” Silence.

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11 year old Santoshi Kumari in Jharkhand’s Simdega district died of starvation after her family’s ration card was allegedly cancelled for not being linked to their Aadhaar number. Before her death, she kept asking for rice (bhaat) from her mother.

(Professor Shah Alam Khan is at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences. His views are personal)