Cheated but not deterred - Ravidutt Son

Graphic: Ravidutt Soni receiving money for goods sold

37-years old Ravidutt Soni belongs to Neemrana village of Block Neemrana, District Alwar, Rajasthan State. He was studying in class 9 when a dispute started emerging between his father and uncle over a property matter. One day, his uncle, in a fit of anger came to his house with acid in hand which he wanted to throw on his father’s face. Ravidutt Soni came in between the two and thus saved his father but could not save himself. Acid burnt his face fully. His eye sight was severely affected. The family along with Ravidutt visited several hospitals in different cities but all in vain. Ravidutt had lost his sight totally by the age of 17.

How strange, how ironical—the father started totally neglecting the same son (now totally blind) who had saved his life earlier. He was considered a burden for the family. His friends who were very close to him earlier, also started to ignore him. However, a couple of them took pity on him and doled out 10 or 15 rupees to him now and then.

When our field worker met Ravidutt in the year 2003, he was a totally broken man. He burst into tears and asked for some poison to end his life. The family wanting to get rid of him, sought to shift him to a temple where he could pray and get some food without charge for whole life.

It was not an easy case as the family and the client both had negative attitudes. However, our field worker persisted and continued to consistently visit Ravidutt, counseling and encouraging him to come out of the deep depression he was in. Gradually, a bond was established between the two and Ravidutt began to listen carefully to the possible avenues for him and agreed to undergo training.

His training started with learning to use the white cane. After some initial hesitation, Ravidutt started to pick up fast and was soon spotted by wonder-struck on-lookers, practicing walking around independently. Thereafter followed training in other areas like social skills, recognizing currency notes and coins etc. He was steadily growing in confidence and happiness.

Finally, he was trained to run a petty shop, and was given an interest-free loan to set up one for himself. Rapidly his business expanded, and he once again was given another loan to take it to the next level. He is now happily earning around Rs. 5,000 to Rs. 6,000 per month. The swiftness and proficiency he displays at handling his wares and communicating with customers is commendable. Though his training period was comparatively nearly double than that of many others like him, Ravidutt has created a promising life for himself.

Being established financially, Ravidutt, now, wanted to get married but, here again, his relatives did not help him to find a suitable match. His mother did talk to some families for his marriage but they were not prepared to give their daughters’ hand to a blind man. One day, Ravidutt met a person who assured him to get a suitable match for him. He demanded Rs. 20,000 for the purpose. By this time, Ravidutt had some savings from his shop and he paid the money and he was married to a beautiful woman. Ravidutt was very happy but his happiness did not last for more than 4 days. The fifth day, the beautiful bride took off with cash and some jewellery after drugging the family. They later found out that this woman had cheated 10 other persons the same way before also.

Ravidutt was upset for several weeks because he had lost money, jewellery and some social respect too. But being a sensible person, he overcame all these difficulties and started work once again. He is today, respected and loved by his family as well as the village folk!