“I’ve been a primary grade teacher at GD Somani since years. I’ve lived a great life with a few ups and downs…but that’s everyone’s life. Life is very ironical at times — all my life I’ve been surrounded by children, but after marriage I had several miscarriages and then delivered a still born. That was the hardest phase of my life, but finally I gave birth to my twins, prematurely but they grew up to be healthy and happy.
''I was four when we fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan. My mother was an educated woman and she managed to find a job as an English teacher. She was never afraid to speak her mind and she felt strongly about women’s rights. Our plan was never to stay in Pakistan but we weren’t stable enough to continue our journey. We didn’t have much but we had each other until that one day.
“I was diagnosed with cancer at the age of five, and at the age of six my doctors had to amputate my left arm right up till my collarbone. Of course it was a struggle while growing up — other children making fun of me, not being given the same opportunity as them; whether it was wanting to be a boxer or participate in other tournaments. As I grew up, I began to accept my situation and would often joke about my ‘missing limb’. I was also very determined as a child.
Last week a person who gives out on hire his Dolby music truck for marriages and other functions used a vacant plot near our house to test his equipment. The heavy dose of bass that he blasted from his truck towards our house made me sick to the core. Such loud music is a common occurrence in cities and small towns of India, more so during the various religious festivals like Ganpati, Dussehra and the like. This noise pollution is further exacerbated by firecrackers during Diwali and marriage festivals.
“Since I was a 3 month old baby, I would have to get my blood pumped every two weeks… that is the life of a thalassemia major patient. It wasn’t my parent’s fault, but the negligence on the part of a doctor to inform my parents that because they were both thalassemia minors, there was a high possibility that their child would be a thalassemia major. Even though he profusely apologized after I was born, what was done was done.
With a wound that refuses to heal on her shoulder, nine-month-old Ruksana lives with her parents - and hundreds of others patients from across India - on the footpath outside the Metro station of Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). After waiting six months amid the noise, dust and traffic, they finally have an appointment with an AIIMS doctor - a year from now.