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ARUNA SHANBAUG: AND WILL TOMORROW COME

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Aruna ShanbaugBY BIKRAM VOHRA

Have you heard of Aruna Shanbaug?

Probably not.

But you should… for she epitomizes the visceral fear that the devil wins some battles. To even begin to understand her plight you have to first get over your own sense of helplessness and sheer horror. In 1973 she was a nurse in Mumbai’s famous KEM hospital. One ugly day she was in the toilet when a sweeper raped and assaulted her.

Today, she lies in a bed on a ventilator in this comatose state for the past 42 years. Every nurse in the hospital takes a vow to care for her and they will not pull the plug. She was one of theirs and they have sort of closed ranks around her.

Courage. Challenge. Hope for a miracle. Tears. Despondency. Rage. Just the exhaustion. 

Aruna Shanbaug

The man who did this deed was set free after seven years and enjoys life as a free man.

Figure it out yourself.

Yesterday, Aruna took a turn for the worse and has developed pneumonia. She does not know that. They are fighting to save her life. Because she has become their symbol, their belief that somewhere, she will awaken even though medical science makes no such promise.

She is now 66 years old.

Sobering thought. And you sometimes wonder, is there a time when you let the rope go as a doctor, as a nurse, as a shutting of the door because not to might be selfish. There are no answers… if only she could regain consciousness… only to know that her fellow sisters have fought over four decades to make the miracle happen.