When I read about one Terry Wallis who got out of his semicoma of 19 years after an overwhelming head injury…I pray to God that such rare luck befall Aruna Shanbhag too…………….
Yesterday wasn’t the only time I remembered Aruna Shanbhag again. When I was posted for a short while in Ward 4 of KEM, my co-intern who is a graduate from there told me,
“You know that Aruna Staff?? She is in one of the side rooms here in this ward. She has been in this semi comatose state for almost 2 decades now. The staff (short for staff nurses) of Ward 4 take care of her.”
Me, “Oh..Aruna……oh THAT Aruna staff……..”
Pritee, “Yes, she is almost 50 now…she is very fair…and must have looked pretty in her youth.”
Then on some other occassion I went to the nursing station of the ward looking for the keys to the staff restroom of ward 4. There I saw a cylindrical box with a label made of sticking plaster reading ‘Aruna’s Keys’. That was the other occassion when I remembered her.
Aruna was a staff nurse at KEM hospital Mumbai. During her work there she had came across a sweeper Sohanlal who worked in the animal laboratory. She had found him mistreating the animals and warned him against doing that. (The other version of this story I had heard says that she had warned the fellow since she had found him stealing medicines and BMC supplies from the ward. I really don’t know which is the true version of the story). So this fellow out of venegance strangled her with a dog chain and raped her brutally. The strangulation caused reduction in oxygen supply to her brain and caused what is called ‘hypoxic brain damage’. As a result Aruna is now in her semi comatose state, unable to speak or move. She just responds to stimuli. Apparently she screams and laughs too sometimes.
At the time of this incident Aruna was engaged to be married to one doctor. Needless to say the doctor married some other lady later on. And apparently took no interest in caring for Aruna. I don’t know how much her family is involved in caring for her. But the staff nurses at KEM take care of her….Upholding the oath they take in the name of Florence Nightingale.
Sometimes I wonder what will happen to me should such a state befall me. I know my mother will care for me as long as she can. Will my brother be able to care for me apart from his family callings? My fiance?? Some day out of social/familial pressures and the will to move on with life he will get married to someone……thats what even I would want him to do. But will he still look after me…..for how long? How long will his wife and children allow him to? Aruna has fellow nurses to look after her….but if something like this befalls me during my stint as an intern…..certainly I don’t expect any interns to care for me……..
I use this opportunity to say that should I become a vegetable at any stage of time, please give me my right to die….don’t keep me alive just to make me a burden on the future……