Saturday, April 16, 2011

Prisoner of Life- Aruna Shanbaug

Tucked away from the fast life of Mumbai, away from all the deadlines, away from time lives Aruna.

The smell of ether, moving wheelchairs, uniformed staff and patients are a regular sight at this part of the world. Beyond the huge French windows, stretched out Mumbai city- the city of dreams; the fast city life of a concrete metropolis whizzed past as the tall skyscrapers outlined the crimson horizon. Three decades--where each day brought about a new change; the city changed, its name changed, the people changed and their faces. 37 years or was it more. Aruna does not remember.

It was way back in 1970s, Aruna, a young and vibrant girl from a small village in Karnataka in her mid 20s had joined King Edward Memorial Hospital in Bombay as a junior nurse. One of the most rewarding professions, Aruna treated her patients with all the responsibility and care and brought back a smile in their lives.

It was a spring in 1970s. Aruna met the new handsome junior doctor in the hospital. It started with professional conversations and soon turned out to be something more than that. They were in love. Aruna wanted to settle down with him in life.

It was a pleasant autmn month in 1973. Her marriage was fixed with her fiance in November and both the families geared up with the preparations. Aruna colored her dreams red.

Sohanlal was a ward boy in the same hospital. Aruna was often irked by his negligence and one day she complained to the senior authorities against him. Sohanlal was badly reprimanded by the seniors and he felt humiliated. Sohanlal did not turn up for days.

It was an evening on 27th November, 1973. Aruna was supposed to meet her fiance at the bus terminus. She told him she would wear her favorite red saree for the evening. Aruna's dreams were crimson.

Aruna was a little late that evening. She hurried down the stairs and reached the empty basement washroom to change her clothes. But suddenly the lights went off. Was it a power cut? As Aruna took out the saree, she could hear some footsteps.

It was none other than Sohanlal. He was drunk. She screamed out desperately for help. Angry Sohanlal wanted to stop that voice forever. He strangulated her with a heavy chain. Aruna could only quiver like a half dead prey and was soon lost in some darkness.

Drunk Sohanlal repeatedly assaulted her. Aruna lay there on the floor. Bleeding and unconscious. Alone. It was darkness all around. The thick strain of blood stained the hospital floor.

Her fiance was left waiting at the bus terminus. It was raining heavily. The last bus left but Aruna did not turn up. Aruna could never turn up.

Clinical Report: "Lack of oxygen supply to the brain due to asphyxiation resulting in brain stem contusion injury and cervical cord injury apart from leaving her cortically blind"

FIR report: Case 1013: "Case of robbery and attempted murder"

Aruna's family did not accuse Sohanlal of rape charges. They wanted to avoid the social stigma and save her impending marriage. Sohanlal was convicted. But then he had to serve two concurrent seven-year sentences for assault and robbery. Sohanlal was free after 14 years. It was Aruna, who became the prisoner of life. Forever.

Its been three decades. Bombay changed to Mumbai. India celebrated its 50 years of independence. But life has come to a standstill for Aruna Shaunbag. Frail and wrinkled Aruna is in a vegetative stage for the last 37 years.

Its raining heavily in Bombay today. The moist winds kissed the glass windows in Aruna's room. Aruna's life has come to a standstill. Its the same hospital where she once walked through the corridors in her uniformed dress.Its the same hospital where she had once weaved her dreams and aspirations. Its the same hospital where she had fallen in love; where she received awards for her exemplary performance. Its the same Kings Edward Memorial hospital. Only the years have passed by and Aruna is a patient. A patient who will never be released.

Aruna still dreams. She dreams of red; of her wedding trousseau; she dreams of green; the green fields in her village in Haldipur; she often dreams of black;

Is it too late; is he still waiting at the bus stop for her? Is anyone out there waiting for Aruna. Cold and lonely, Aruna blankly stares at the walls for her answers. She can't speak, neither can she hear nor feel.

Aruna wets her bed and waits for the next nurse to clean her up. Its an endless wait as the country, its legal orders and Aruna's nurses want her to live.

Aruna Shanbaug lives. And we all hope her journey reaches a destination.

["Aruna Shanbaug (or Shanbhag) is a nurse from Haldipur, Uttar Kannada, Karnataka in India. In 1973, while working at King Edward Memorial Hospital, Parel, Mumbai, she was sexually assaulted and has been in a vegetative state since the assault. On 24th January 2011, after she had been in this status for 37 years, the Supreme Court of India responded to the plea for euthanasia filed by Aruna's friend journalist Pinki Virani, by setting up a medical panel to examine her. The court turned down the mercy killing petition on 7 March, 2011. However in its landmark judgment, it allowed passive euthanasia in India.[1]"-(From Wikipedia:

(*the post is just a fictitious perspective of Aruna Shaunbag case.)]

Thursday, April 14, 2011

To Love,

Dear Love, When was the last time you knocked my door, showered me with wet kisses and made me realize your presence. When was the last time you welled up tears in my eyes and made me realize you are still there beside me . When was it during an unexpected moment, you held my hand and whispered:"I'm there". I dont remember as it has been ages I was in love all over again; head over heels giggling with my girlfriends sharing little details with a precious glow in my mind. May be I lost you midway. I know you were never bound by completion, goals or aspiration. You only belonged to fools or romantics. I'm a fool. I still need you. I need you to reassure me that yes you will be there...forever. I want you to hold me when I feel lost. When the practicals and ambitious surround me, love I desperately want to be content in your arms. As the twilight sneaks in amidst the bright rays of sunshine, you will also sneak into our lives and never leave. I want on to hold on to this twilight, love. But I know its not there. You have deserted me long back. In my pursuit of practical wisdom I lost you. Love, I'm neither a romantic, nor practical, but I want you back. Do you still belong to me or have you really deserted my life just as the faded autmn leaves gives way to winter----endless and long lasting... Yours truly- .....

Saturday, April 9, 2011


"Tomay chute chaoar muhurtera ke jaaney ki abeshey dishahara.." What is your status update all about... Cant u read Bengali? Yes i can...Whatever! "Listen Sarmistha, you have to be practical, you cant take your emotions in the market and buy stuff! You need money" "Sarmistha, stop acting like a baby. Everytime you can't just come here and say I havent done this or that" "Sarmistha, for everything there is a process. You just cant take somebody's word and believe it, you have to have written proof" "Sarmistha, grow up!" "Sarmistha please act according to your age. Look at other people of your ageand behave accordingly!" "God Sarmistha when will you become practical" "Life is not smooth Sarmistha, face it!" Are you tired Sarmistha. Are you lonely Sarmistha. Do you want to change Sarmistha. Do you really want to grow up? Do you want to become practical? Answer me back Sarmistha. I need you to answer all of them.