Blog on Sikkim.

Monday, June 04, 2007

AGAINST ALL ODDS: ASHA'S STORY


My name is Asha. I have been in this world for just 9 days and fighting for my life after been mercilessly stuffed alive inside a sewerage pipe and left there to die. I somehow survived that ordeal and now I am fighting another battle. In case you have not heard about me, here’s my story.

I was conceived through a callous act of two teenagers, who perhaps did not want me in their lives in the first place. By the time I could sense the world outside of my mother’s womb, it was pretty clear that I was not wanted. I never heard my mother talking about me to any one. She did not even talk to me. I never felt her warmth, her love or her concern. I did not even hear my grandparents discussing me, or my impending arrival. No one seemed bothered.

My mother went about her daily life as if I did not exist. Nor she seemed aware of the fact I was growing inside her womb. My father? I do not think he was aware of my very existence in the first place. My mother apparently never told him about me.

I continue to grow inside my mother’s womb until May 25, when I decided to finally come out and face the world. The circumstances leading to my birth is confusing, traumatic and distressing, to say the least. My mother and her parents decided that I would not live under any circumstances and hatched a nice little plan to get rid of me as soon as I born. The moment I left my mother’s womb in the wee hours of the morning, and even before I barely managed to let out my first cry, I was a pariah, a tiny bundle of shame and disgust to them. I was a piece of garbage that needed to be thrown away. When I needed to be caressed, cleaned and wrapped up in blankets to keep me warm during the first few minutes of my birth, I was ruthlessly taken to a dirty urinal and forcefully stuffed inside a sewerage pipe. I was pushed legs first hard into the pipe till my head was inside it. And left me there to die.

My mother and my grandparents then left and went about their lives as if nothing happened. I do not know how long I was inside the dirty, cold pipe, gasping for breath. I cried out for help, struggling inside that pipe but my cries were too faint to be heard by anyone.

But I did not die. My faint cries of help were finally heard by someone who raised an alarm and alerted some people. When they figured out from where the cries were coming, they found me struck inside the pipe, barely breathing.

It was Dr. Priya Reddy who first touched me when she put her hand inside the pipe and found me. When they cut the pipe and pulled me out, I was covered in all the filth from the sewerage pipe and had cuts and bruises all over my head, face and neck. I had deep lacerations and was bleeding from my mouth. My ordeal at being stuffed alive inside the pipe was finally over. Dr. Reddy wrapped me in a blanket, cleaned me and took me to the Hospital where I was immediately into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

However, my ordeal was not entirely over; in fact it was just about beginning. Doctors found out that I was not breathing properly and that my tonsils were bleeding internally, blocking my airways. I was put into ventilator and my cuts stitched. I was suffering from post traumatic stress and barely alive. Doctors were doubtful of my chances of survival.

All this while, my mother and my grandparents were no where in the scene. When they were cornered and question, they pretended that they were innocent. My mother refused to acknowledge my presence and my grandparents said that they were not even aware that my mother was pregnant! My mother has made it clear said that she did not want me; my grandparents gave poverty as an excuse for not taking my responsibility.

The next few days were agonising for me. There I was, with tubes sticking out of my mouth and fed through pipes, gasping for air as I lay inside the ventilator with the doctors and nurses as my only source of hope. My parents have abandoned me and my future is uncertain.

Each day is a challenge as I develop one complication after another. My medical bills are sky-rocketing with each passing day and it is only Dr. Reddy who has come forward and stood by me all this while and has been bearing all my medical expenses. My blood pressure is not stable; my bruises are taking too long to heal and lungs are too weak to breath on their own. I developed severe pneumonia and each injection cost Rs. 600 which has to be bought in from Siliguri. Every day, doctors force high doses of anti-biotics and life-saving drugs into my tiny, fragile body. I cannot breath on my own and I am being poked regularly with needles in an attempt to find a vein. And now, my kidneys are showing signs of damage. And all this while, my mother has not come and seen me even once…

Yet, I have held on and fought against the odds. I do not know how I have made it so far. Even if I survive this ordeal, my future is full of uncertainty. Doctors say that I may have long term complications from my injuries which could be anything from brain damage to severe disability. The extent of brain damage that I may have suffered would be clear only once I reach the age of 2. I may develop severe hearing problems, or even go blind or become a mental retard. I may have to spend the rest of my life in rehabilitation. I will require long term treatment for any complications that may develop. I will need expensive CT and full body MRI scans and probably surgeries too.

The question here is, who is responsible for my state? Is it my parents who brought me into this world without knowing the consequences, or is it my grandparents and my mother, who tried to kill me even before I had let out my first cry? Who is to be blamed here? The education system that has failed to provide proper sex and reproductive health education to my mother, who is just 17 years old and a school student? Where would she sought help when she discovered that she was pregnant and needed guidance? Are her illiterate parents to be blamed, who claim they never found out she was pregnant, for their irresponsibility towards their daughter and her well-being? Is it the various Government and non-governmental agencies who claim that they work for child welfare? Where are the NGOs supposedly working for woman and child welfare? No one has enquired about me till today. Where are all those so-called social service organisations when I need them the most? Isn’t an abandoned child battling for her life anybody’s responsibility? Where are all those who pretend to be philanthropists and make tall claims about generosity? Has the collective consciousness of the people of Sikkim died? Is there no compassion in the people any more?

As I battle for my life each day, these questions need to be answered. Who will take my responsibility? Did I deserve to be left to die inside a sewerage pipe? Did I deserve all this cruelty and inhumanness? No. I deserve a home, a family and lots of love and care. I do need all your prayers. But more then that, I need attention and treatment.

I have made it so far but do not know how far I will make it.

This is my story. I am Asha. Your Asha.

SIKKIM EXPRESS has taken the initiative to raise funds for Baby Asha’s treatment. She needs extensive medical treatment right now as she battles for her life at the NICU at the Central Referral Hospital, Tadong. She has been abandoned by her family and is presently being taken care by Dr. Priya Reddy. We appeal to the people of Sikkim to come forward and generously contribute towards the medical treatment and care for Baby Asha. Baby Asha needs the love and support from all of us.

Please contact SIKKIM EXPRESS office with your contributions for Baby Asha.
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SHITAL PRADHAN
C/O LN PRADHAN
SHANTINAGAR, SINGTAM
SIKKIM- 737134
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When i started my blog on Sikkim way back in 2007, i had it clear on my mind that this blog shall help people look out for knowledge on Sikkim. I always wanted a knowledge house about Sikkim, its past, present and future. I do not know over the years how much did i succeed but my determination to let other understand my Sikkim is always giving me a push. with regards Shital Pradhan (himalayanreview@gmail.com)

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