Uncertain future haunts Jaipur blast survivors (Feature)

May 26th, 2008 - 9:51 am ICT by admin  

By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
Jaipur, May 26 (IANS) They lie strapped up in hospital beds, one moment thankful that they survived and the other haunted by the prospects of a grim future. They used to be the sole breadwinners of their families but now find themselves helpless after being seriously injured in the string of terror blasts here. Some were cooks, some sold flowers by the roadside, some worked at shoe shops. But as they gradually recover from their injuries - over 200 were injured in the May 13 serial explosions - they are wondering how their families will subsist.

Sanjay Bhatia is lodged at the day care centre in the Sawai Man Singh Hospital, the largest hospital in Rajasthan where the maximum patients are being treated.

Bhatia, a hawker, suffered multiple fractures in the blasts that also killed over 60 people. With both his hands plastered, the 44-year-old said he was more worried about his family than his own condition.

“I am the sole bread earner. I know I will be out of action for over two months because of my fractures. I don’t know what my family will do,” Bhatia told IANS.

Bhatia said: “I have three grown up children who go to school. We live in a rented house. How will we manage?”

Though his entire treatment has been free, he worries about future medication.

The Rajasthan government has declared Rs.500,000 as compensation for each of the families of those killed in the blasts and Rs.100,000 for each of the critically injured.

But, for many, the compensation holds no comfort.

Mahesh Chenali, 32, who used to work in a shoe shop in Badi Chopar, another site where a bomb exploded, finds it difficult to bear the pain. He had bomb splinters embedded in his stomach, which were removed in an operation soon after he was brought in from the blast site.

His mother Savitri Devi is happy that he is alive and tries to comfort her only child whenever he cries in pain. Chenali was standing outside the shop to guide customers in when the bomb went off. He escaped death.

“He is alive, that’s all. He is my only son and my only hope. Even if he is unable to go to the shop, I will look after him. I want him to recover fully even if it takes months before he even thinks of going to work. Money is nothing,” she said.

Brave words from a woman in her 50s who recently lost her husband and who is entirely dependent on her son’s meagre earnings for survival.

“We don’t have money. The hospital is providing free treatment. I know the future could be hard and equally harsh but, for me at the moment, my son is more important. We will somehow manage,” Savitri Devi told IANS.

Eighteen-year-old Pankaj Kumar, who worked as a cook in a private residence, faces a similar problem. For him there will be no salary for a few months as he has multiple fractures.

“I have to return home in Bihar to rest. I cannot go back to work. My family is very poor, that is why I came to Jaipur. I have no alternative means of earning money,” he said.

“I don’t know whether I will get a job when I return from Bihar,” he added.

For 57-year-old Madan Lal Sanik, the days have become a little longer. He reaches his street side flower shop near the Hanuman temple in Chandpole, one of the blast sites, at 5 a.m. and then rushes to the hospital where his son is recovering. Until the blasts, his son would shoulder the bulk of the day’s business at the flower shop.

Sanik returns to his shop again in the evening and reaches home late at night. His wife takes turns with him to visit their son in hospital.

“He used to help me. Now I have to do everything. I can’t leave the shop and I can’t leave him alone to fend for himself. He needs family support,” he said.

Sanik, who seems tired, said he is suddenly feeling his age. “I am happy my son is alive and has no serious problem. But it is so difficult to see him bandaged and sleeping on the bed, suffering. I am waiting for the day he will come back to work with me.”

Additional Medical Superintendent K.K. Mangal at the Sawai Man Singh Hospital said most of the patients were operated upon on the day of the blast.

“Most suffered multiple fractures or injuries on the head, chest, abdomen and upper limbs. These would take some time to heal. But there is nothing to worry.”

(Kavita Bajeli-Datt can be contacted at kavita.d@ians.in)

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