(In an anonymous account, a retired nurse remembers her days as an intern at KEM Hospital in the days immediately before, and after, the Aruna Shanbaug attack)
I was 18, in my second year of nursing school, and I was interning at KEM Hospital.
We would rush to lectures every morning and then back to the hospital for on-the-job training. My work involved assisting senior nurses in the cardiac care section of the hospital. That is where I first met Aruna Shanbaug.
She was very beautiful, and very strict with the juniors. She didn’t mince words and she was very particular about patient care. Things had to be done the right way.
Aruna seemed to have it all. We youngsters would talk about the handsome senior doctor who was going to marry her in two months, and what a good-looking couple they made. Their lives seemed set to be perfect.
Then came that horrible morning.
We were in our hostel when we heard there had been a murder in the basement of one of the hospital buildings. I vividly remember going to work that day and seeing police vans all over.
Eventually we heard the whole story and it was shocking and frightening. It was Sister Aruna. She was alive, but she had been brutalised by a ward boy.
Those of us who worked the night shift where scared. As the news spread, family and friends became concerned. After all, we lived on campus.
Even after the ward boy was arrested, there was a sense of fear. Eventually it died away.
I remember us taking turns to see her, clean her. I remember how the sight of her fiancée sitting by her side reminded us that goodness existed in the world.
Today, as I look back, I can say for a certainty that she survived 42 years because of the dedication of the nursing fraternity. Batch after batch looked after her as their own.
Maybe that’s the ultimate message for the ward boy. People cared about Aruna. They loved her and never gave up on her. She was a woman to be admired. In all his brutality, he could not change that.
(As told to Sayli Udas Mankikar)