Last Week, I saw Guzzarish – The Movie. It’s about a person who is in a vegetative state and how he wants to end his traumatic life. The magician, who actually hurts his neck while performing. From then on, all his body parts below his neck is numb and immobile. He can speak, hear and see and do nothing else. He suffers a lot physically and mentally. He has a caring nurse who takes care of him for 12 years and eventually fall in love with him. Ultimately, The court approves mercy Killing and he is put to rest.
I was so touched by the story and felt it was right to award Euthanasia to a suffering human being. If a man has right to live then, he also has the right to end his life at his own will, no matter what the reason is and This is purely my opinion. On Sunday, when I read about Aruna Shanbaug in the local newspapers, I thought it was right to allow Death of Dignity so she could end her painful sufferings.
But, when the Supreme Court passed the verdict against it I was apprehensive. I was angry. I thought the Bench was merciless. I wondered how can one be so discreet following the laws and not be compassion about a person who doesn’t even know if she is passing stools in the bed. What a life it would be for her to live lying on the same bed for continuous 38 years for no mistake of hers.
I had my own arguments in my mind.
I saw a few talk shows that evening where they discussed for and against Euthanasia. One Mrs. Karibasamma, has also been requesting for mercy killing. She looks healthy physically. Her reason for mercy killing is that she is a diabetic and had a kidney failure. She has nobody to take care of her as her family is given up on her. Also it takes a lot of money for dialysis which is supposed to happen every week. And it strains her both physically and mentally. She says she wouldn’t attempt for suicide as it’s against the law. [There has been a few cases where the victim had a failed attempt of suicide and since its again the law, they have been punished and jailed for life time, which is nothing but another torture again.] But the intellectuals argued that she could take help of the Government and also a lot of NGOs would come to her help. She doesn’t need Mercy killing.
I realized, It was more than ending a life. It was about accepting Life with its flaws. It was not same for everybody. Things look very different in Aruna Shanbaug’s case. I read a lot about her, in papers and other medias and my opinion changed.
Aruna Shanbaug worked as a nurse at KEM hospital in Mumbai during 1973. She was chained like a dog and molested by the ward boy. The chain around her neck cut the oxygen supply to brain by which she is in vegetative state today. A case of Attempt to Murder was booked against the ward boy and sentenced 7 years of jail. He did come out of the jail after seven years, but Aruna is still in the same state for almost 38 years now.
The Judges had precise answers for not allowing Euthanasia for Aruna. A video clipping was played to show what a pity life Aruna was leading, but it gave a new meaning to the case. The video clipping showed Aruna shrieking and shouting, also moving her crippled limbs. It also shows that she is spoon fed mashed food by the hospital staff and Aruna is able to swallow the food. It seems devotional songs are played in the background for which Aruna reacts if they are put off. She enjoys non vegetarian food especially Fish, as she smiles sometimes by the taste of it.
Though Aruna is suffering in the so-called vegetative state, I guess she is still enjoying her life. It is also said that the staff at KEM Hospital were against Euthanasia for Aruna and have been greatly appreciated by the Supreme Court for taking care of Aruna for 38 years continuously.
The Supreme Court has allowed “Passive Euthanasia”, of withdrawing Life Support of the patients who are in vegetative state for prolonged period but rejected active Euthanasia by administration of lethal drugs.
The court made one more commendable mention to drop section 309 “Attempt to Suicide” as the person attempts to suicide due to depression and he needs treatment for that, and not punishment.
My thoughts have changed about Aruna. After all everyone has a right to live.