On Wednesday, a room in Ward Number 4 of KEM Hospital will wear a fresh look, complete with balloons, ribbons and even a small air cooler.
The room houses Aruna Shanbaug, who has been lying there in a vegetative state for the last 37 years, after she was sexually assaulted by a sweeper in the hospital, where she worked as a nurse, in November 1973.
Wednesday is Shanbaug’s 63rd birthday and this year, the nurses have decided to go an extra mile to make it special. “Every year, we celebrate her birthday by cutting a cake or distributing sweets. This year, we will decorate her room with flowers, balloons and ribbons,” said Jayashri Tarkar, treasurer of the Nursing Welfare Society of the hospital. The air cooler too is a gift from the nurses.
New curtains and bed sheets, will also be put in the room and Aruna will be gifted a gown. “Given the hot weather, we thought an air-cooler would make her feel more comfortable,” said Tarkar. The nurses plan to feed Shanbaug fish, one of her favourites.
This year is significant for Shanbaug, as in March, the Supreme Court had rejected a petition filed by author Pinki Virani, seeking mercy killing for Shanbaug. The KEM hospital management and nursing staff had opposed the plea.
“The joy is more this year since we won the case. Every single nurse in this hospital has taken care of Aruna like a family member,” said Sugandha Rokde, senior staff nurse of Ward Number four.
“Whatever the hospital nurses have done for Aruna is priceless. I will visit her on Wednesday like every year,” said Dr Sanjay Oak, dean of KEM Hospital.
“We pray to god that Aruna continues in good health.”