Nurses at KEM Hospital, Parel, observed the first death anniversary of Aruna Shanbaug, who had spent over 40 years at the hospital after a sexual assault left her paralysed, by bringing out a booklet in which they penned down memories of their former colleague.
The nurses had cared for Shanbaug in a small room in the hospital. “Nursing students, who have completed their studies at KEM Hospital over the last 42 years, have got an opportunity to serve her. I am one of them. Getting an opportunity to serve her was a matter of pride,” Arundhati Velhal, matron, KEM Hospital, wrote in the booklet.
Shanbaug was raped and assaulted by a ward boy in the hospital’s basement in 1973, rendering her semi-comatose for 42 years. She died at the age of 68, on May 18 past year, at the hospital.
“I was a first-year student at KEM when the incident took place. She was admitted in ward number 4. All the nurses who were posted in that ward would take turns to give her a sponge bath, wash her hair, and feed her,” said Geeta Dahanukar, senior staff nurse. “She was extremely fond of eating non-vegetarian food and used to love having fish soup.”
According to nurses, Shanbaug’s condition began to deteriorate from 1995. “For the first twenty years, Shanbaug would often react with a huge smile, every time a nurse called out her name,” said Reema Pawar, sister-in-charge, Ward 21.
The hospital has decided to start a library, to be named after Shanbaug, and a gymnasium for nurses, from a fund that they received from Shiv Sena MLC, Neelam Gorhe.
“We plan to start a library and also improve the gymnasium in the KEM hospital from the fund worth Rs5 lakh, that we will be receiving,” said Avinash Supe, dean of the hospital.