30 July, 2021

Comma, Period?

Is it too much to ask for deliverance for Aruna?

Illustration by Sandeep Adhwaryu
Comma, Period?

In a room strictly off bounds for all except those attending on her, Aruna Shanbaug lies alone. Her eyes are open and staring vacantly into space. She has been lying this way, in a twilight zone between life and death, since the night of November 27, 1973, when she was attacked by a ward boy who tied a dog chain around her neck, cutting off air supply to parts of her brain, and sodomised her in the basement of Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial hospital, where she worked as a nurse. A woman, a senior nurse at the hospital, enters the deathly calm of the hospital room and approaches her prone form. Her own time at KEM now drawing to an end, she has something to say to Aruna. Bending down, she whispers gently into her ear: “Tomorrow is my last day at work and I don’t know who will attend to you after I am gone. My dear, I need you to go on a long sleep today.”

That was the last scene from the Marathi play, Katha Arunachi (Aruna’s Life), directed by Vinay Apte. Telling the true story of Aruna Shanbaug, it...

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