Some years ago, to be precise when I was 20 years old I got hold of Pinki Virani's 'Aruna's Story'.I would not recommend it as a classic and it isn't for that matter. But I know I could not sleep for nights after I read about it. I was aware of women being raped and I was also aware that men did rape for vengeance, what I found unacceptable was the fact that there was a woman paralysed for 30 years just because she did her job. And the man who did this offence served for seven years in jails and was free.
It irked me when I thought this could be me if I dared to object or ascertain myself, which reminded me why menfolk in my family beleived women needed to be protected and had no right to decide their life.
For those of you who have not read about Aruna, she was a nurse who worked in K.E.M hospital , Mumbai 38 years ago. On Novemeber 27,1973 she was attacked by wardboy Sohanlal asphyxiated with a dog chain and sodomized. Sohanlal was later arrested and sentenced on charges of robbery and assault and not rape and unnatural sexual offence which could have earned him a longer sentence.
My mom was in Mumbai during this incident and she told me the nurses had gone on a strike appealing for safety measures. Such was the power an incident like this had on commoners who were oblivous to the word 'rape' otherwise. Pain cannot be compared or I beleive it should not be rather. Someone once asked me " so many women get raped then why does Aruna Shaunbag gets the limelight ? " It is a sensible question to reflect upon. I cant compare the brutalities inflicted by rapists on different women neither am I willing to pacify myself grading thse occurrences on parameters like age, stigma, and victim's life aftermath.
Aruna's case has caught our attention recently due to Pinki Virani's petition to the Supreme Court pleading to administer Euthanasia for Aruna. Though her care takers and doctors feel this is unethical and Aruna seems to respond emotionally at times especially to her favourite food, her vegetative state for last 38 years makes it difficult to reach a decision.
And to think of why she is in such a state today makes me feel helpless being a woman. The world never came to a standstill in the past 38 years though for Aruna it in non existential. Her family and loved ones moved ahead in life leaving her at the hands of merciful caretakers who managed to keep her sore free and alive for 38 years.
What would I do if I were her? This question has been haunting me for 8 years though I hardy know this woman. What beats me is the apathy with which my neighbour cooked today while I was narrating this story to her.
Maybe it's true the moment an incident happens it ceases its vitality and starts being a story. Aruna is a story today for many ............ but I cant understand a society which believes every rape is a similar story.
Happy women's day- I don't understand what this day means except for few discounts of jewellery and cosmetics and puppies and candies, what does this day actually mean?
Can I wish women like Aruna a happy women's day?
p.S- Supreme court has rejected Aruna's plea for euthanasia however it has marked a new dawn for euthanasia in India- by allowing passive euthanasia with stipulated guidelines.