He plays in his father’s arms, but refuses to come near his mother.
Poonam Singh (35) was seriously injured by terrorists’ bullets at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus on November 26, but now she is more pained more by the cold shoulder her one-and-a-half year-old son Yash gives her.
“When he sees me, he covers his face with his hands,” said Poonam from her bed at JJ Hospital. “He has always seen me in a sari. Now, when he sees me in a hospital gown, he shies away,” said Poonam, whose elder son Sachin (8) is also in hospital with multiple bullet injuries. “But the main concern is that he barely recognises me these days, I have lost so much weight.”
Other victims of the 26/11 terror attacks are distressed that they have neither met nor spoken to their children for weeks now. JJ Hospital is still treating 23 patients who were injured in the terror attacks.
“I had come to drop a relative off but got caught in the firing,” said Shabir Dalal, a resident of Sholapur who was caught in the mayhem at CST and has been admitted to the hospital’s plastic surgery ward with serious bullet injuries.
“Since the time I was admitted I’ve not seen five of my children, except my eldest son, who is in the hospital with me,” he said. “My youngest daughter Arsiya calls me to say that she is missing me a lot; she is very close to me. But I can’t move from this bed, so how can I comfort her?”
He worries about his children because there is no one to take care of them in his hometown except his aging mother. A grocer, Dalal is also worried about businesses losses.
“My brother has agreed to take care of my family till I am fit to return,” he said. “But how much can one do? My youngest son is four years old. I have four other children at home besides my mother. My wife and I have been in the hospital for a month with no income. I just hope they can survive this period and don’t go on the wrong track.”
A few feet away from him is Manoj Kanojia, who feels “mixed emotions” about his only child.
“My son is one-and-a-half years old,” he said. “He got scared looking at my state, and that’s why I sent him to our native town along with my wife.”
“I am really feeling lonely without him, but I am glad that he is enjoying himself,” he continued, his face breaking in to a smile. “He called me to say that he visited the bird sanctuary and felt grand after sitting in a horse carriage.”
For most parents like him, long-distance parenting is taking its toll. “He picked up a bad word the other day and I shouted at him over the phone,” said Kanojia. “Staying in the hospital for treatment is okay but now that I’m worried about my son.”