For the first time in 42 years, there is no hustle and bustle in room number 4 at Mumbai’s King Edward Memorial Hospital, with its sole occupant for over four decades having passed away.
However, for nurses who attended to Aruna Shanbaug, a former nurse at the KEM hospital, as she lay in a coma all these years after she was sexually assaulted in 1973, it is hard to let go off someone who they treated like a family member.
Now, some of these nurses have expressed the desire that the room, Aruna’s ‘home’ these four decades, be turned into a memorial of sorts.
However, it is a difficult decision for the hospital authorities as it would mean having one room less to treat another needy patient.
“Yes, it is true that some nurses wish that there be a memorial for Aruna. For the time being, we have kept her photo in the room. However, no final decision has been taken on the memorial idea,” KEM dean Dr Avinash Supe said.
“An alternative could be to name the room after Aruna and continue with patient care in the room. That way, we won’t be wasting a room where patients could be treated,” Supe added.
The nurses will miss wishing Aruna on her birthday which falls on June 1, a hospital official said.
Aruna, 66, who was raped and throttled with a dog chain that left her in coma for 42 years and made her the face of a debate on euthanasia in India, died on Monday, bringing to an end one of the most tragic journeys of a victim of sexual assault.
Image: Art students draw posters of Mumbai's KEM Hospital nurse Aruna Shanbaug after hearing of her demise. Photograph: Deepak Salvi/Rediff.com