When Kamlesh Rajbhar left Lakhni, a nondescript hamlet in Uttar Pradesh, two years ago, he thought Mumbai would provide an escape from his impoverished existence.
Twenty days after the blast, the 20-year-old pani puri vendor is faced with the unwelcome reality of returning home.
On July 11, waiting on platform No 2 at Mahim station, Rajbhar felt a shrapnel tear into his legs and blow them off, one by one. Now, recuperating at Sion Hospital, Rajbhar, a football enthusiast, can hardly come to terms with the fact that he may never be able to run again. “I don’t know what I will do when I get out of hospital,” he says looking down at his heavily bandaged stumps.
Except for his father, who arrived a couple of weeks ago, Rajbhar’s family is unaware of the tragedy. “They know he’s ill and in hospital but that’s all,” says his fa ther Jhabhu.
The only one of Jabhu’s six children to leave the village, Rajbhar sent home Rs 2,000 once in two months— the money he saved from the Rs 150 he earned every day.
“He will have to return home. Who will take care of him here?” asks Jhabhu, who makes a living doing odd jobs.
In a couple of weeks, Rajbhar will undergo more surgeries to seal the wounds below his knees. “Prosthetics limbs will be fitted,” said Dr Anil More, a medical officer at the hospital. “But recuperation will take much longer as he’s lost both his legs.” For Rajbhar, everyday is a challenge as he grapples with nightmares of the blast and thoughts of an uncertain future.
The Rs 50,000 compensation is just not enough to buy back his life.