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Week after blasts, anger overshadows fear at the Civil Hospital

Week after blasts, anger overshadows fear at the Civil Hospital

Author: D P Bhattacharya
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: August 3, 2008
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/343952.html

Rohan is dead. So is his father Dushyant. A week after the serial blasts that rocked the city, Geeta Vyas is struggling to cope with the deaths of her husband and elder son. Her younger son, Yash, 8, has been shifted to a private hospital. But back at the Civil Hospital, people are still praying for him.

"Get someone to do a mahamrityunjay jap for Yash, I know it works, he will survive," instructs the hospital matron to someone over the phone. "I have two little ones back home," she adds, almost inaudibly.

Like Geeta, others at the Civil Hospital - the nucleus of the blasts - are trying desperately to get life back to normal. It is not easy. Fear still lurks in their hearts, but there is anger too. Both patients and the medical staff are angry that the sanctity of the red cross was violated.

"There is fear among the patients, many are seeking sedatives for sleeping as the sound of the explosions still echoes in their ears," says Dr Devang Malodiya. "They (terrorists) have done what nobody would have thought of. The blast was in our own backyard. We were seeing people bleeding, crying, dying before our eyes. The anger, the pain of that moment was unbearable. My senior broke down in tears, abusing the perpetrators," he recounts.

"It is probably this anger that propelled us to put in our best. We have tried to save as many lives as we could. It was more than just duty, it was an answer to their cowardice," he says.

The hospital staff are visibly shaken. "When I heard the blasts, my first reaction was to run for home. But halfway to the gate, guilt struck and I was back in my ward," says a young nurse in B-4 ward.

"Two blasts followed, we were flooded with the dead, wounded, bleeding and burnt. It was time for duty. We were numb," she recalls. "When I returned home the next morning and saw my husband, I broke down. Yes, we are scared. Lekin kaam to kaam hi hain na (but work is work)," she says.

"Chhe din ho gaye, lekin wo raat bhul nahin pate. Lekin kya karey kaam to karna hoga na? Aur hum nahin karenge to kaun karega? (Six days have gone by, but we can't forget that night. But what to do, we have to do our work. And if we don't do it, who will?)," says another nurse at the ward.

"Prerak died right before my eyes, I am alive, and that's luck," says Dr Kishore Damore, a senior of Dr Prerak Shah who was among those killed in the hospital blasts. "I learnt what fear is on that day. Anything can happen anywhere," he adds, still very disturbed.

"This could have happened to me also, and that thought haunts me," says another doctor.

At the Burns ward, four victims are still unconscious. "The doctors are doing their best. It's better than any private hospital," says Girish Khatri, a friend of Sunil, a diamond worker who rushed to the trauma centre to donate blood after hearing about the blasts.

"This is not done," says Dr Jayesh Sachde, echoing the sentiments of the rest of his fraternity.

"Living with the dead for so long, we don't easily get swayed by emotions any more," says Gopal Solanki, who carried out post-mortems on about 30 blast victims last Sunday. "But now that they have bombed a hospital, it hurts. No place is sacred anymore," he adds.

"My people have done a great job and we are back to our normal routine," says M M Anchaliya, the hospital superintendent. "They can't stop us or scare us," she says, adding, "but this was not expected."

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