The soothsayer was scarily right...
The astrologer checked the horoscope of the fair, very pretty girl and told her father: ''Some day, she will be very famous.''
Little would a thrilled Ramachandra Shanbaug imagine that the foreteller’s prognostication about his daughter, the last of her parents’ nine children and the favoured child of the family, would come true in a horrific manner.
Aruna Shanbaug, who is lying in semi-comatose state on a bed in Ward 4 of KEM Hospital in Mumbai, and whose tragedy will decide the individual’s right to euthanasia in India, is that girl.
Aruna was born in this small village located amid verdant environs off Highway - 17 in Honnavar Taluk.
The family home where little Aruna gambolled about, “Garave Nivasa - 1963’ still stands near the Gopinath Venkatramana mutt.
None of Aruna’s family live here any longer. The only residents from the Garave clan is the family of Lakshman Subraya Shanbaug.
Of the six brothers of Aruna, three, Balakrishna, Govinda and Sadananda worked at the ‘Hindu Vishranti Gruha’, a guesthouse in the Agripada Chawl in Mumbai.
Aruna studied upto Class X at the Rural Education Society School here, and after the death of her parents, left for Mumbai to live with elder brother, Balakrishna. She completed a nursing course and joined the KEM Hospital at Parel. The lively, pretty and dedicated Aruna was very popular.
During her work, Aruna, who was engaged to a doctor, warned a sweeper, Sohanlal against mistreating animals in the laboratory and stealing medicines.
She paid a heavy price for her conscientiousness. A vengeful Sohanlal strangled her with a dog chain and raped her brutally. The strangulation caused reduction in oxygen supply to her brain and caused what is called ‘hypoxic brain damage’. Aruna is now in a semi-comatose state, unable to speak or move, although she responds to stimuli and screams and laughs too sometimes.
The staff nurses at KEM take care of her, and journalist Pinki Virani, moved by her plight appealed to the Supreme Court for medically assisted termination of life.
The Supreme Court has reserved its judgment.
Haldipur residents who knew Aruna recall that she was a very bright, beautiful girl. “Fairy-like”, was the comment of a senior citizen.
The younger generation in Haldipur know her only from newspapers and the TV. They are against euthanasia.
“None has the right to take anyone else’s life,” they argue.
The beautiful Aruna did become famous as the astrologer predicted. Saddened at her plight, residents of Haldipur fervently wish he was wrong.