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NEET-UG 2022 : Medical aspirant takes ‘Bhishma Pratigya’ for her dad

NEET-UG 2022 : Medical aspirant takes ‘Bhishma Pratigya’ for her dad

NEET-UG 2022 : Medical aspirant takes ‘Bhishma Pratigya’ for her dad

“ I would have chosen some other field but for him,” Sakshi says, referring to her father Sanjeet Kumar. “I don't want others to suffer the pain that he has.”

Sakshi, 17, is a papa’s girl. She has pinned great hopes on July 17 – the day of NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entrance Test). While she revised her notes and marked questions as ‘important’ and ‘more important’ during her preparation for the test, she remembered the most important lesson of her life: To take care of her father. She knew the time when she had to give a newspaper to her father, hand him his shaving kit, make tea for him and bring his meals – the timetable for her father’s every little need, including the one to dress his wounds.

Yes, she was already playing the doctor and making a neat job of it. Now she dreams of wearing the white robes and acquiring a medicine degree. Papa’s daughter to Papa’s doctor – this dream of Sakshi is born out of a nine-year nightmare.

“ I would have chosen some other field but for him,” she says, referring to her father Sanjeet Kumar. “I don’t want others to suffer the pain that he has.”

The 52-year-old has retired as a bus conductor from Himachal Road Transport Corporation after one year of active service – from March 7, 2012, to March 24, 2013 – at HRTC’s Reckong Peo unit in Kinnaur district. Sitting at his house at Malghota village in Baijnath tehsil in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, he narrates his story from one March to another to another – March 11, 2022, when he retired.

“ Sab kuchh theek chal raha tha. Naukari lag gayi thi aur pakki hone ki umeed thi. Par kismat mein kuchh aur hi tha (Everything was fine. I had got a job and was hoping to get regularised. But destiny had something else for me),” he says. On March 24, 2013, he recalls, they were on a bus to Reckong Peo. The time was around 7.30 am, the road was nearly empty and the weather was cold. When they reached near Rarang village, the bus suddenly rolled into a gorge. There were no fatalities but he suffered a serious injury to his spine. 

All the injured were first rushed to Rarang dispensary, from there to Reckong Peo Civil Hospital and then to Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, Shimla. As his condition was serious, he was referred to the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh.

“ He remained admitted to PGI for a month and was operated upon. When he was discharged, we took a room on rent at Dhanas village because he required regular check-ups,” says Sanjeet Kumar’s mother Jai Devi, 70.

The doctors ruled out full recovery for him and issued 100% disability certificate on September 19, 2014. “Humein to kuchh samajh nahin aa raha tha ki kya kiya jaye. Maine to isse ek baar lagane wali dawa pila di thi (We could not figure out what to do. Once I made him gulp down one liquid medicine which was meant for external application),” says Jai Devi.

His permanent disability meant more responsibility for his father. “Thankfully, I was getting a pension so we could make ends meet,” says Sanjeet’s father Ram Pratap, 80, a retired primary schoolteacher.

Bringing up two small kids – Sakshi and her sibling Mehak – became difficult for his wife. “For first two years, I could not step out because he needed regular dressing. To move him on the bed, help of at least two-three people was required,” says Sanjeet’s wife Sapna Devi, 39.

The family got a breather with the restoration of movement in the upper part of his body.

“ The doctors had assured us that he would get sensation back above his waist in due course of time. Two doctors from Australia had checked him at a Palampur hospital. They too were of the same opinion. Slowly and slowly, he started moving his hands,” says Jai Devi.

Mehak, 13, who studies in Class IX, made the most of this welcome break by playing carrom and ludo with her father.

Sapna Devi, who has studied up to Plus Two, started looking for a job, and soon got one of a physiotherapy assistant at a Palampur hospital.

Not to be left behind, a bed-ridden Sanjeet Kumar joined the family struggle through pen and paper. He would write to his department authorities to draw their attention to his plight. “Every month I would attach an application with my medical bills. I would request them to do something for me. I would get the reimbursement but no reply,” he says.

In January this year, however, HRTC implemented a scheme which has a provision for giving a job to the eligible dependents of an employee who suffers disability or dies due to an accident while on active duty. The job is to be given within three months of the incident. So far, 16 people have benefited from this scheme.

Sanjeet’s case qualified for relief under this scheme. So, as soon as he retired from service, his wife was provided the job of a junior office assistant (IT). His dues amounting to over Rs 8 lakh were cleared as well.

“ This is too little, too late. We can’t compensate him for his emotional suffering,” says HRTC managing director Sandeep Kumar.

Sanjeet’s life seems to be on the road to recovery now.

But Sakshi is still worried. “When Papa met with the accident, we were too young to grasp the tragedy. Its enormity dawned on us as we grew up. Then we came to know Papa was in terrible pain. There is a slight improvement. But we know he can’t be on his own as there is no sensation below his waist. I can’t leave him alone. That’s why I have decided I won’t get married ever.”

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