Mumbai, June 22: Is life fair? Why do many good people suffer due to someone else’s fault? More to the point, what should be done about a person who has no hope for the future and in all probability will wither away like a vegetable for no fault of hers?
For the past 23 years, she has been living in the twilight zone.
Indeed, for, Aruna Shanbag, the day begins and ends in the metal bed of ward No.4 of the King Edward Memorial (KEM) hospital in central Mumbai.
Crippled forever, Aruna lives just for the sake of living. Maybe, God has still not decided to call her into His arms.
The cold metal bed in Ward No. 4 has been the center of her life since 1973. It was not as if she never had a different life. Her world crumbled on Nov.23,1973, for no fault of hers.
On that fateful day, Aruna who was just 20 and working as a nurse was preparing to leave after a hard day. Through the day, she had been nursing a group of schoolchildren who were admitted to the hospital due to food poisoning.
After being through with her duties, in the wee hours of the next day, Aruna went to the changing room for nurses in order to freshen up before her leaving for home, but unfortunately, she could never make it.
For lying in wait, was a ward boy who had been carefully monitoring her movements that night. Finding an opportune moment, he trapped her. Choking her with a leather leash, which cut-off the oxygen supply to her brain, he brutally raped her.
The hapless Aruna was discovered next morning in an unconscious condition. The damage had already been done. Despite all efforts, there was little that the doctors could do to bring her back to normalcy. Since that fateful day, Aruna Shanbag has been in what the doctors call a ‘vegetable’ state.
“There is no hope for her. She will not recover. She will always be in this miserable condition,” explains Dr (Mrs.) Pragnya Pai, dean of the KEM hospital.
Though the ward boy was caught later, but shockingly ha was let-off for want of evidence.
Aruna who is now 44 years continues to be in a condition of 4 year old child, who has to be constantly looked after. She has to be bathed and looked after by the nurses.
The saddest part is that her behaviour changes for worse when she hears a male voice.
“Yes, she reacts adversely to a male voice in the vicinity. As far as possible we have female nurses looking after her needs,” informs Dr Pai. It is to the credit of the KEM hospital authorities and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation that they look after her and bear all the expenses entailed in hr upkeep, especially because she was on duty when the incident happened which transformed her life forever to that of a vegetable.
What’s more, the KEM authorities in small ways also try to make her life happier.
Arrangements have been made to feed her fried fish twice a week, which she loves a lot. Initially, we were not sure what to feed her. But we noticed that she smiled whenever she at fish. So twice a week, we have arranged to give her a diet of fried fish, says Dr Pai.