Saturday, March 19, 2011

Aruna Shanbaug: It's my life

I am now qualified as a senior citizen. I would have got tax exemption on 2.5 lakh of my salary and concession in the railways as well. But then, things don't always work as planned. Like a lot of senior citizens, I don't earn anything to get any tax exemption. And I don't go anywhere. Nowhere. I have seen people living in the slums of Dharavi where each person gets about 20 sq ft of space to live. I live in almost equal space - the only difference is that I don't move. In fact, I can't move and haven't moved by myself for last 37 years. Some people call me soul. Some call me life. Some call me sub-conscious. A few techies these days even call me the software. I am the 'real person' within the body of the most popular living nurse in India, Aruna Shanbaug. I am the 'red' of the Aruna. I am the 'shaan' of the Shanbaug. I am the the real Aruna Shanbaug.

I was always amazed at the hegemony of the mankind. Man decides which animals to rear and which to kill. Man decides which plants to grow. Man not only decides the fate of plants and animals but also of other people. Today, it was my turn. My fate was to be decided. Whether I would live or die was to be decided by a few people. I didn't commit any crime. On the contrary, I am a victim. But still. They would decide whether I would live or die.

Through all these last 37 years, Pinki has been my best friend. She really cares for me. But one thing that hurts me the most is the pain Pinki is going through. Pinki is in pain because she can't see me suffering through the agony. She can't see me bearing the pain for 37 years. And she fights for a very noble cause - of giving me freedom from my sufferings. These days, while the children send their parents to old-age homes, Pinki has been by my side. I'll be indebted to her throughout my 'life' and beyond - if there's anything after life.

But I am brave. I am full of life. I believe in miracles, science and the divine power. I believe that I will see the light of the day. I'll eat the best of fish and listen to Aamir Khan's 'O palan hare' composed by A R Rahman and written by Javed Akhtar. I believe that the medical science will make enough progress that I would be treated. If not tomorrow, next year. If not next year - after ten years. I want to live.

We consider committing suicide a crime. A person cannot even attempt to take his own life even though he is suffering from insurmountable mental stress. But when it comes to my case - no one even bothered to know what I want - whether I want to live or die. But I can't blame them. How would they know what I want? I have no way to communicate to them that I want to live, that i want to go through this pain and hope that someday I can move by myself. After all, it's the hope that keeps everyone alive and motivates people to persevere. Didn't the "mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in foolish dreams" boy who was expelled form school grow up to become Albert Einstein? It is hope. Hope - that made they kept going. I believe that medical science would make enough progress in the next few years that I'll recover. And despite what the doctors say - I have hope and faith that I shall be back. And my wish is that I want to live - live till I can possibly live.

Today a few supreme people on the bench decided my future. I shall live. I don't know if I need to thank them to give me something that is as much mine as anything can get - my life.  But, nevertheless, I'll thank them for not taking away what they could have. It's my life and let me and only me decide what's enough for me and how much I can bear. If I am not able to communicate it to you, please leave me to myself.

Please don't show mercy on me.


viswanath March 19, 2011 at 9:38 AM  

Emotional. But how about thinking in the angle of reliving her from pain she under going for 37 years? Life essentially means moving around with joy, peace and Happiness. (Though J.C.Bose has different ideas on moving)When Aruna can't perform these tasks, is it valid talking about humanitarian grounds and make her suffer for some more years?

Neha March 19, 2011 at 7:42 PM  

you said what I am trying to say too; but in a fictional cannot take what you can't give! simple as that! my post talks about my views on this topic!

Nandita Prakash March 19, 2011 at 7:45 PM  

whats happening to Aruna now is lot more painful than what happened to her years ago. she must be relieved keeping the damn law aside

Prashant Mehta March 19, 2011 at 8:01 PM  

Viswanath ji
That's precisely my point. Everyone has a different ollerance level and different definition of life. And that's what my concern is. Does someone who has been completely paralyzed have no right to live? Who decides that? Why should someone else sensibilities about life dictate how long you live?

Neha ji
Totally agree!

Nandita Prakash ji
Agreed. Looks like no one really tried to know what Aruna wanted.

Wishmaster March 21, 2011 at 12:00 PM  

Awesome write up....It would be great if you can come up with the other side of Aruna who (atleast at times) may have thought of ending her life to relieve Pinki and herself from all this pain, suffering and agony....As you have pointed out in your reply to Nandita Prakash, no one really tried to know the real need of Aruna...I sincerely wish,hope and pray that Aruna gets what she wants and deserves...May god bless her!!

Haritha Nair March 21, 2011 at 5:29 PM  

I too stand by your side Prashant. Everybody talks about circumstancial evidences, by counting bed sores and pointing length of nails. But what if Aruna wants to live further. From what I have read about her, she used to be a person, who never fails to fight. And moreover, a severe pain in a part of the body, doesnt opt us to chop off that part,as the immediate remedy, right? Afterall, its my right! I too have penned the same here:

Prashant Mehta March 22, 2011 at 3:46 AM  

Wishmaster ji

Perhaps she wanted to end her life. No one knows what she want.

Haritha Nair ji

Agreed. What if Aruna wanted to live further. I Like your post on Women's Day. However, i don't think this case of euthanasia has anything to do with gender.

Arighna Gupta March 22, 2011 at 5:14 PM  

Prashant, I like the write up. Well since most of the comments have already expressed considerable views, I don't know how relevant I would sound, but I thought the view of 'life' that you emphasized is essentially a very 'not-a-vegetative-person' centric view. In the sense, isn't it a little bizarre to even TRY to perceive a life which by mere facts are beyond our levels of comprehension? In a way, I am of the opinion that it is a little futile to attempt a 'what could have happened' scenario, pertaining to facts, and go by a passive approach, no euthanasia - accepted. That necessarily doesn't imply 'full of life and miracles, science and the divine power'.

Biswajit Biswas March 23, 2011 at 2:32 PM  

well said point prashant, as vishu said why not the other point of view where Aruna cannot suffer the pain anymore, but again the point you have emphasized here " Who are we to decide". We do not know what is she thinking? It's only assumptions from our end.

Alpesh March 23, 2011 at 5:29 PM  

Nice post on mercy killing prashant, let's hope and pray that Aruna's GUZARISH is addressed!!

Prashant Mehta March 27, 2011 at 3:30 AM  

Arighna Gupta ji
I agree with you. Most likely it's beyond our comprehension what 'life' means to Aruna or any other person in vegetative state. Through this post, i don't intend to be judgmental. My sole point was to explore the possibility that the other person may want to live and that miracles do happen.

Biswajit Biswas ji
Thanks! The other point could very well be true and perhaps more likely to be true. But can we risk a person's life based on probabilities and likelihoods

Alpesh ji
Thanks! Yes. Hope "Her" Guzaarish is addressed!

Swati March 29, 2011 at 2:10 PM  


Vaskar May 20, 2012 at 12:29 AM  

We are with you, Prashant.

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