Monday, May 25, 2015

Lessons Learnt From Aruna Shanbaug's Life

            Shortly after her 25th birthday, this nurse was sexually molested and ruthlessly strangled by a vengeful hospital sweeper. The brutal attack incarcerated her into a vegetative state for 42 years. Aruna Shanbaug died on 18-May-2015, disowned by her family, but devotedly loved by the hospital staff to an extent that they kept her away from the pain of bedsores.

            We do not hope for Aruna’s painful situation upon anyone. But her situation could happen to anyone although in a different manner. Such is life’s gory unpredictability.

            She was in her prime and beautiful; her beauty attracted a young doctor who dated her because he saw her fit to be his wife. She was born to serve or so it seemed; she chose a respectable profession that served the ailing. That she lacked nothing could be a safe guess.

            But Aruna’s undoing was activated when she reprimanded a hospital sweeper for stealing food intended for hospital dogs. In response, his evil and perverted mind processed a reciprocation of rape. After sodomizing her, he harmed her irreparably by strangling her with a dog’s chain.

            In a moment, Aruna’s life morphed into gruesome pain.

            Her pain compounded when her family abandoned her. Aruna’s life could not have been darker and gloomier. Pain was at its zenith.

            Instantaneous death could have been a blessing in disguise for Aruna, for living in a vegetative state, and abandoned by her family, was a colossal pain than death. This is horrendous suffering.

            Without a cure in sight, death may have seemed like the best form of pain-relief. But God kept Aruna alive for 42 years in vegetative state.

Why and for what purpose did God keep Aruna alive almost to the point of being a burden upon the society?

            The Bible reveals that sickness and death are intended for God’s glory (cf. John 9: 1-3, 11: 4). So, how did Aruna’s life display God’s glory?

     Intriguingly, Aruna’s life offers a bright ray of hope to those in pain.

            The significant players in Aruna’s life were the hospital sweeper, Aruna’s family, the doctor who dated her, and the hospital staff.

            The hospital sweeper who molested and injured Aruna was an epitome of evil. He reminds us that evil lurks around the corner, waiting to assault us any moment. Despite our diligence, we could be susceptible to an evil assault, for we are rank powerless against evil if we strive to live our life in our own strength and might.

            Whatever be our situation, such an evil response cannot be justified. Even if we are in the very same situation as the hospital sweeper, reprimanded for doing wrong, we should take utmost care to not process any response that is remotely proximal to evil.

            Aruna’s family reminds us that no one or that nothing is certain in our lives. Our family and friends could discard us anytime. When we find ourselves in deep trouble, not many may come to our rescue. No one is perfect, our families included.

            On the other hand, if we are blessed to have family and friends who care for us when we desperately need help, then we ought to be grateful to God and to those who care for us. It is indeed a blessing to have family and friends who sacrificially care for us when we need them the most.

            The doctor who dated Aruna apparently took care of her for four years, but when he learnt that there would be no definite cure for Aruna, he decided to move on with his life. It seems that he has since married and lives outside India.

            Could we blame him for dumping Aruna? I don’t think so, for he too is not perfect. He may have found it unwise to squander his life over a person bound to remain incarcerated to die someday.

    What’s the point in being miserable and lonely waiting for someone who is not going to recover? Isn’t it the greater good to live happily? These thoughts probably motivated him to move on with his life.

            The hospital staff, especially the nurses and doctors, is the human-reason for Aruna’s seemingly painless vegetative state of life. As media reports portray, these nurses were God’s own angels, who kept this pathetic remnant of a human alive and well to the best of their abilities. 

            In hindsight, if it had not been for these kind souls, Aruna could have been dead, gone and forgotten a long time ago. In fact, the hospital staff may be the sole reason for Aruna’s fame in pain, for she was kept alive for 42 years. If she were not living, even vegetatively, she would not have been in the main stream news.  

            Think about this, what did the hospital staff have to gain by serving Aruna for 42 years? I could safely assume that they had nothing to gain. However, they cared for her because they loved her as if she was their own. This, I reckon, is the highest form of human love. 

            This is unconditional love - the very form of love that we should practice. Unconditional love expects nothing in return. Occasionally, we could be rejected by those whom we love unconditionally. But the prospect of rejection should not deter our love. 

            Were the nurses mandated to care for Aruna as if she were their own sister or mother? To care for Aruna so much so that she did not suffer from bedsores is the highest form of care. These nurses have undoubtedly engraved an admirable benchmark for us to emulate.

            Impossible as it may seem, the utterly selfless caring act of these nurses, most surely informs us that such a glorious art of caring is humanly possible. As long as God gives us breath to breathe and energy to serve, may we serve those in need with an utterly unconditional love.

            If anyone is in need, then we ought to serve them sacrificially. Sacrificial love is the need of the hour. We should practice sacrificial love always and at any cost.

            Significantly, Aruna’s life teaches us that not everyone would be healed by God. God heals some and not the others. We do not know the precise reason for God not healing some. But we are sure that God loves and cares for everyone. Just as God cared for Aruna through the hospital staff, HE would most surely care for you and me.

            Aruna’s life offers a glimmer of hope to those in severe pain. There are moments we may find ourselves lost and lonely in our terrible suffering. Aruna was lost and lonely in pain. But as Aruna received unexpected yet quality care, God will provide care and assistance from HIS people.

            May we be those who provide that unconditional and selfless love and care to anyone who is in need.        


Information about Aruna Shanbaug was gleaned from these sources:

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