As Sneha Kale (20) rushed to catch the 12.24 pm Kalwa local at Byculla after giving her psychology exam on Monday, she had little idea that her life would change forever within moments.
Like hundreds of other commuters, the second-year physiotherapy student tried to force her way into the ladies’ compartment. But she slipped. She made a desperate attempt to hang on to the door handle, but lost her grip as the train caught speed. Shocked commuters could only watch as she fell on the tracks, her right leg caught in the wheels.
A vigilant motorman hit the emergency brake. But it was too late. Sneha’s right leg was dismembered below the knee.
As her friend Shamali Dusane, who managed to get on the train safely, rushed to get help, Snehal kept her cool despite the blinding pain. She asked station staff to fetch the severed limb from the tracks and fashioned a makeshift bandage to stop the bleeding. She was then rushed to KEM Hospital, where she was operated upon at 4.30 pm.
What followed is an extraordinary story. After her operation, Sneha told the hospital staffers she would not miss her psychiatry exam the next day. “I lost one leg, that’s all,” she explained matter-of-factly.
“We were stunned – Sneha sounded like she had… a scraped knee or something,” said Ranjana, her mother.
The hospital staff ensured she reached the examination hall at JJ Hospital in a specially-arranged ambulance. As her shocked friends gathered around her, it was Sneha who consoled them.
So keen was she to give the paper that she asked for her books even during the operation. She was under local anaesthesia and she reasoned she could use the time.
“I once worked with a person who lost both legs. If such people can carry on and live happily, so can I…,” Sneha said.
She credited her family for giving her the strength to carry on. Her still shocked – and proud – parents said they were grateful to the hospital staff and friends for standing by Sneha.
With her exams over, her doctors said she would soon be fitted with a prosthetic. With that, and her steely determination, Sneha hopes to get back to life as it always was.