Ward Number Four

Till that night of November 27, nineteen seventy three
She was like the free bird in the tree
Bright eyes rippling with reams and reams
Of ambitions and dreams
Alas, a gruesome act sent her to the bed in ward number four.

She, who wanted to be a mother, a wife
Was brutalized at the very cusp of a promising life
Dreams cut short by a dog’s leash
Amputating every blossoming wish
Dreamless, she now lay in her bed of ward number four.
Attended to by nurses who were a sliver bright
In her life which had morphed into a dreary night
While the sun outside was warm
She was dull and pathetic her form
In that bed of ward number four.

For forty two years by death stalked
She had limbs but never walked
Eyes which did not see, ears which did not hear
Her loved ones moved on, but she stayed on
In that bed in ward number four.

In the window, sunbeams played hide and seek
Cheated of life and love, she grew progressively weak
Unappreciative of the love games
Of the jungle babblers who canoodled in the trees
As she curled in that bed of ward number four.

Generations of nurses came and went
Talking and feeding one condemned to a living death
Hope in their bosom and prayer on their lips
Singing away to one whose heart beat
But never felt, in that bed of ward number four.

In silence hushed
They walked past the woman cruelly crushed
Around her, heated arguments raged
While she lay caged
Brain dead, in that bed of ward number four

With atrophying bones and wasting muscles.
Intellectuals locked horns and had verbal tussles
About an iconic symbol who breathed
Was fed, and cared for with compassion
But lay comatose in the bed of ward number four.

Every dawn the windows were sun tinted
But soon she was like a picture sepia tinted
Forgotten and patina covered
Around her solicitous nurses hovered
As she lay in that bed of ward number four.

They say that on May 18, 2015, she breathed her last
But had she not died forty two years back
On that horrific night?
Was it not her merely her vegetative body
That lay on that bed in ward number four?

The sun has risen on another day, the storms still rage
The battered bird has limped out of the cage
They split hairs over mercy killing
Unperturbed, the birds continue trilling
Outside ward number four.

( Aruna Shaunbaug’s promising life and career as a nurse was cut short at age 25, on 27 November 1973, when she was at the receiving end of a brutal attack which resulted in her slipping in a PERMANENT VEGETATIVE STATE . As she lay comatose in bed, a heated debate raged around her, regarding mercy killing. She breathed her last on 18 MAY 2015. The debate still rages on.)

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About Santosh

An educationist with a passion for writing , having published some novels for young adults, some essays and some poems. My poetic biography of Mahatma Gandhi will soon be published .

13 thoughts on “Ward Number Four

  1. Vineetha

    Santosh ma’am, you have written this so well.
    The violence a man wreaked in her life made her a vegetable while he still lives and enjoys.
    In spite of the evidences against him a few years in jail were all he got and then he walked a free man.
    She on the other hand remained caged forever till death came.
    Justice? Freedom? Equality? Democracy? Kindness? Compassion?
    All ZERO.

  2. Vijay jangid

    Indeed its very touching incident and a new dimension of life, where family bonds became weak during the tough testing times and the bonds of love , care and affection shown by nursing staff became stronger and stronger during the last 4 decades of her life. She had her last breath with her loved ones and I wish her soul may rest in peace.

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