No Deepavali cheer for family at low-cost flat
With one daughter confined to a wheelchair, M Kalaichelvi has her hands full just supporting her family.
Photographs by Djohan Shahrin
The Kerinchi low-cost flats in Pantai Dalam, Kuala Lumpur, where M Kalaichelvi and her family have lived for the past 25 years.
Kalaichelvi left her office job to take care of her four children, one of whom is wheelchair-bound. Now, she earns what she can by driving students to school and back each day.
Her own daughter, M Kanchana, attends school as well although her transportation arrangements are more complicated.
Kanchana is unable to walk due to a tumour in her back that has blocked the nerves in her spine.
Now 13, Kanchana has lived with the condition since she was nine years old.
Because of her condition, Kanchana returns home from school early each day but always has stories to tell her mother.
Kalaichelvi, who devotes the bulk of her attention to her daughter, says she has made no preparations for Deepavali this year.
Kanchana loves drawing and spends much of her time sketching and colouring the pictures she creates.
She can move short distances on her own, but requires help for anything more than that.
Unable to run and play outside anymore, she sits in the small flat unit with her colour pencils and drawing pad.
Her hobby keeps her occupied throughout the long days at home.
Kanchana's grandmother, Kalaichelvi's mother-in-law, lives with them in the small flat. She, too, requires a great deal of care as she is old and has already fallen twice.
Kalaichelvi is fiercely proud of her daughter, and believes she has great potential despite her ill health.
She spends her weekends cleaning houses in order to make some extra money to continue supporting her family.
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