Monday, May 18, 2015

Aruna: Paradoxes of Life


Aruna Ramachandra Shanbaug passed away this morning.  She lived 42 years in a bed of King Edward Memorial Hospital, Mumbai.  A brutal rape had rendered her comatose.  The rapist spent seven years in the prison and became a free man.  His victim lived in a vegetative state as a question mark on many things.

The most controversial question her life raised was about the limits and possibilities of euthanasia when Pinki Virani, writer and human rights activist, moved the Supreme Court seeking euthanasia for Aruna in 2011.  Can anyone choose another person’s death however absurd that person’s life may be?  This was the question that the apex court was faced with.  Obviously, the court decided against Virani’s choice.  Yet can we blame Virani for what she did?  She was being compassionate to Aruna.  Compassion and justice need not always be on the same side of morality.  That was one of the paradoxes raised by Aruna’s life.

Aruna’s relatives in her home state of Karnataka had abandoned her a few years after the tragedy befell her.  They were helpless.  Her sister, the only relative who lived in Mumbai, died two years ago.  The doctors and nurses of King Edward Memorial Hospital became Aruna’s guardians, caretakers, people who fought against Virani’s compassion.  Was it love versus compassion?  I guess we cannot dismiss the hospital staff’s attachment to Aruna as mere sympathy.  If we call it love, the next paradox raised by Aruna is: can love and compassion be on opposite sides of human emotions?

What would Aruna say if she had the power to choose her destiny?  Would she choose Virani or the hospital staff?  Whatever her choice, it would have revealed yet another paradox of human nature.  

I salute all of the people concerned here.  Virani for raising the question about the possibilities of discovering the compassionate aspect of euthanasia.  The hospital staff for their tenacious tenderness.  And Aruna herself for her endurance, however passive, however conscious or unconscious it was, for being a profound question mark on many aspects of human life.



22 comments:

  1. A very well written article!! It's sad to hear about this tragic end but end is some thing unavoidable and inevitable.. RIP Aruna ( The fighter)..

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    1. Ends are inevitable. Yet they leave us with a lot of questions, sometimes at least.

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  2. Oh..life how many faces you have...! Timely write sir.

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    1. And most of those faces may be valid too, Goutami. That's the paradox.

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  3. What Pinki Virani did was commendable. I feel a bit sad that her family abandoned her. I wonder about the doctor to whom she was engaged. Did he ever visit her? Just wondering...

    Life is cruel to some. Here's a story of brutality and compassion. Sadly, weaved into one.

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    1. Incidents like this can make us wonder about the various shades of life.

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  4. Very sad story....the saddest part being it's true and someone has lived it. The paradoxes are integral to human existence. These paradoxes perhaps define life, making it beautiful and at times treacherous.

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    1. Someone lived it for a very long period. Yes, the entire thing fills us with a multitude of feelings and thoughts.

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  5. Please read my take on the issue : "Whose life is it anyway". I think people should have the freedom to leave their body, if the body becomes a failed instrument to communicate with the world. Yes, there are many ethical and moral dilemma, there are legal issues, but what is more important let some one suffer or create system to address dilemmas.

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    1. I agree with your arguments. I read your blog. But human affairs are made very complex by the emotions. I tried to focus on that paradoxical aspect.

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  6. I admire more the hospital staff for their tenacious tenderness....
    Others should learn from them....

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    1. Of course, they are a great lesson in love, human bonding.

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  7. Such a sad life! and that guy who had done,Sohan Lala, is happily married and working as a ward boy in a Delhi nursing home.

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    1. Another paradox! The villains always get on while their victims suffer all sorts of agonies.

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  8. Aruna was the Damini before today's Damini. The Hospital High Command had tried to twist the case by making it of robbery instead of rape and also tried to send Aruna away. Hats off to the nursing staff who fought for her and took care of her for so many years; they didn't let one scratch come on her alive yet dead body. We learned nothing from Aruna's case, that is why today we had a Damini.

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    1. Manisha, if people could really learn the world would have been a Paradise by now. How many yugs passed since Krishna taught his nishkama karma? How many centuries passed since Buddha taught his enlightenment? The nurses in Aruna's hospital are the real lessons for me.

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    2. But I' m incapable of learning from them.

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