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A new hand, but no work

Kamal Khemka (36) managed to replace with a prosthesis the “working hand” he lost in the July 11 serial blasts, but still lacks work, writes Jyoti Shelar.

india Updated: Jun 21, 2007 02:24 IST
Jyoti Shelar
Jyoti Shelar
Hindustan Times

Kamal Khemka (36) managed to replace with a prosthesis the “working hand” he lost in the July 11 serial blasts, but still lacks work.
“I have a new hand but no work,” says Khemka, one of the 1,077 victims of the 11/7 serial train blasts.

“I lost my working hand, my right hand,” says Khemka, with emotion in his voice as he struggles to put aside papers scattered on the bed of his one-room-kitchen residence in Mira Road. The papers include a bunch of letters from Western Railway, several politicians and a few unfilled forms.

The Railways had announced a job to the handicapped and next of kin of the dead in the blasts. But, Khemka did not fit the criteria. Khemka is 65 per cent handicapped, five per cent short of the requirement.

“They say that I have to be 70 per cent or more handicapped to get a job,” he says in an angry voice. Khemka was in the printing business before the tragedy.

Five months ago he managed to get the myoelectronic prosthetic limb with financial help from a few sponsors, friends, relatives and the Rotary Club.

“It cost me Rs 4.80 lakh, but at least it reduced my embarrassment,” says Khemka. “I had stopped meeting people, going to functions. As soon as I entered, people bombarded me with questions and kept staring at me. Now its better, as very few people come to know that I have an artificial limb.”

Four months after the blast that changed his life, Khemka began practising writing with his left hand. From alphabets written like a kindergarten student to English written in Urdu, as he calls it, Khemka aims to get even better with his left hand.

He says the artificial limb is helpful but its function is limited.

Life is tough for Khemaka, whose wife of seven years, Sheela (24), has anaemia, a blood disorder. “My wife’s treatment is on besides my medical expenses. I don’t understand where to get money from,” he says.

The well-qualified Khemka is even ready to take up a grade four job. “But the Railways is not responding to my letters,” he says. “I am even trying in call centres and other jobs, however they respond in the negative once they learn about my disability. It now seems we may have to live on people’s mercy.”

First Published: Jun 21, 2007 02:21 IST