Suraj Bhushan Lohra and his wife have no clothes to wear. On many nights they don't get food to eat, but they make sure that the animals – some live inside their house -- never have to go hungry
Ex-serviceman Suraj Bhushan Lohra has fought two wars for our country, but it’s his heart of gold that takes a precedence over his bravely. He truly personifies what compassion means as he selflessly spends his monthly pension of Rs 19,000 on his “family members” comprising 60-70 cows and calves, 15-20 dogs and hens and many more animals. Lohra — who lives in Chanho village, 70 kms from Jharkhand’s capital Ranchi — has been doing this for many decades now.
It’s been a while that Lohra and his wife, Lalita Devi, have invested in any kind of materialistic pleasure. His wife has only one saree which she wears. The couple’s only prized possession is an old bicycle. They have around three acres of land in their name, but no clothes to wear. On many nights they don’t get food to eat, but they make sure that the animals –some live inside their house — never have to go hungry.
“I served our nation for 20 years. Now I look after these animals. Our day begins at 3 am and ends at 11 pm. At times we don’t get food to eat, but we make sure to feed these animals. We don’t even milk the cows so that the calves get enough milk,” says Lohra.
Lohra has been through a lot in his life. He was born into a poor Adivasi family. All of his seven sisters passed away. “I have seen only hardship since my childhood. I have been though a lot. I had two children, but even they passed away due to illness. Now these animals are everything to me. I live for them. They are like my children,” says Lohra with tears in his eyes and his voice choking.
His life has been tragic and this probably explains why he now has the courage to look and think beyond himself. “I just can’t see others suffering. I can’t see others sad. I will continue to help others till my last breath. I don’t want any kind of materialistic pleasure. I don’t want good life for myself. I want to dedicate my life to others.”
But not many comprehend Lohra’s love for these stray animals. It leaves many perplexed. Some even call him crazy and say his house resembles a zoo. There are three rooms in his house – which is made of mud and roof tiles. But they just have one bedding to sleep on. When we visited their house, few utensils were kept in a corner. They don’t have cooking gas or woods. Despite this, Lohra’s wife makes 40-50 rotis and 2-3 kilo rice for the animals.
When asked how difficult it is to cook, Lalita Devi, who always wears the same tattered saree and is forever smeared in dust and mud, says: “We don’t have enough firewood. But we somehow manage every single day. We eat whatever is left over after feeding these animals, but on most days we go hungry.” She does not even remember when was the last time she visited her family or relatives. “He never had enough cash. Now he spends everything on these animals.”
Lohra always carries some rotis in his pocket. The dogs living in his house get to eat in plates even though the couple does not have enough utensils. He has even named some of them. The couple takes these animals out on fields. They have even hired someone to look after these animals. They pay him a monthly salary of Rs 1070, amount that’s sufficient to buy a cooking gas for themselves, but they are not bothered.
Their neighbour Sukhlal Uraav says: “You will not find someone like Suraj in whole of Jharkhand. He has practically adopted these stray animals. They fill water from a well and during summers they have to walk up to 100 meters to do so. The government should help them.”
All the villagers have immense respect for the couple though many of them fail to understand why would anyone look after stray animals when the couple can easily live a peaceful life.
Their neighbour Chand Munu Rai says: “We don’t get wheat here, but they make rotis for these animals. They don’t eat hens that they rear. The cows and calves occupy most of their space. When they die, the couple buries them outside their house. These animals mean the world to them. There are 10 new graves outside their house. These belong to those calves that died last winter.”
Anil Lohra, who studies in class 12 and is related to the family, says: “They have been doing this even before I was born. All I know is that my grandfather served for the nation and now he looks after these animals. I am proud of him and of the fact that I belong to this family.”