For Dadar resident Varsha Karia, the scars on her still-healing left arm are an unsightly reminder of the July 13, blast that sent shockwaves through Mumbai last year.
Karia, 27, works in the accounts department of a pharmaceutical company in Marine Lines and lives with her parents and sisters.
She was on her way home from work with a friend when a bomb went off near Kabootarkhana in Dadar, Central Mumbai. While her friend got away with a few scratches, Karia's injuries were far worse.
Both her eardrums were severely damaged and she lost a huge chunk of flesh off her left arm, right under the elbow. She gingerly stretches her arm to show it to this reporter. The fold lines where the two bones connect have disappeared. It's in a partially functional state. The fingers have shriveled up from blast burns and surgeries. "I still can't move my arm properly, doctors have told me that it'll take another surgery to fix it," she says.
After the blast, a completely disoriented Karia was rushed to the KEM hospital. "I didn't know what was happening till the next day when I came to my senses," she says.
Her eardrums have been surgically fixed but her left arm will need at least two more surgeries. A rod has been inserted in it to give it support and numerous sessions of grafting sessions have restored some of the missing skin on her arm, but it looks far from normal. "The doctors have said that they'll do as many surgeries as possible to level it out," she says.
Her scars may be healing but there's a sense of discontentment. Karia's family had received Rs 2 lakh in compensation but they've already spent more money on her treatment and there's still more to come. "The compensation money was not enough, the government should either make sure that I get treated properly or should at least give me a government job, she says.
She's resumed her job at the pharmaceutical company and is quite happy with her employers. "My salary didn't stop coming in for the entire period I was in the hospital. It was a huge financial help from them," she says.
The frequent hospital visits are making her restless too. "I'm still making rounds of hospitals everyday. I have to go for my blood test tomorrow. We are also going to start the process to level out the bulge on my arm. It's an uphill task," she says resignedly.
But her employers have been more than supportive. "I leave from work early everyday to go for my tests at the hospital," she informs. It was more than three months after the blasts when her daily routine gained some semblance of normalcy, but her struggle is far from over.
Karia can't wait to get her normal life back and is trying with all her will to get there, but she's also conscious of the fact that she can't do it alone. She says rather matter-of-factly, "The least the government can do is give me a government job. I'll be more at peace and go about my treatment."
Photograph: Varsha Karia
Credit: Nishi Tiwari