Mahendra Pitale’s two great passions of life were sculpting and riding motorbikes. But this fine arts graduate from Raheja College of Arts cannot indulge in either of them today. He lost his left arm in a blast in the western suburb of Jogeshwari two years back. His prosthetic arm cannot swing in small arcs and its fist cannot close in on things.
When the bomb ripped the train apart, Pitale fell out on the platform. He says, “I saw my bleeding arm and knew that it could not be joined again.” <b1>
For such a violent incident, Pitale recovered fast. He joined back at his glass designing job within two months. But one of the first things he had tried after being discharged from the hospital was riding his bike. He could, but just about — the grip of the left handlebar was gone. It was not the same anymore. So he sold off his prized machine. “I used to change my motorcycles every now and then for the pleasure of riding different bikes,” he reminisces today, adding: “My art, too, went. I can no longer use the tools needed for stone carving.”
Not one to be pitied, the gutsy 34-year-old says, “Though the terrorists tried to sabotage our lives, the episode has not made any difference to my routine. After work, I still board the same train, at the same time — the only difference is that now, instead of a first-class compartment, I have to board the one for handicapped people.”
The family support was rock-solid. “Everybody in my family knows I can take care of myself very well,” he says with pride. But then, the painful memories are never too far. “I saw the Jaipur blasts’ coverage on television, and memories came flooding back as soon as I saw the victims lying in pain — like I was, two years ago.”