Sakshi, 17, is a father’s daughter. She pinned high hopes on July 17 – the day of the NEET (National Eligibility Cum Entry Test). As she reviewed her notes and marked questions as “important” and “more important” in her preparation for the test, she remembered the most important lesson of her life: taking care of her father. She knew the time to give her father a newspaper, give him his shaving kit, make him tea, and bring him his meals—the schedule of her father’s every need, including dressing his wounds.
Yes, she was already playing doctor and doing a neat job of it. Now she dreams of wearing the white dress and getting a medical degree. Daddy’s Girl to Daddy’s Doctor – this dream of Sakshi was born out of a nine-year-old nightmare.
“I would have chosen another field without him,” she says, referring to her father Sanjeet Kumar. “I don’t want others to suffer from the pain he has.”
The 52-year-old retired as a bus driver 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 in his house in Malghota village in Baijnath tehsil in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, he tells his story from one March to the next – March 11, 2022, the date he retired .
“Sab kuchh theek chal raha tha. Naukari lag gayi thi aur pakki hone ki umeed thi. By kismat mein kuchh aur hi tha (Everything was fine. I had found a job and hoped to get regularized. But fate had something else for me),” he says. On March 24, 2013, he recalls, they were on a bus to Reckong Peo. It was around 7:30 a.m., the road was almost deserted and it was cold. When they arrived near the village of Rarang, the bus suddenly rolled into a gorge. There were no fatalities, but he suffered a serious spinal injury. 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 in Shimla. As his condition was serious, he was referred to Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh.
“He remained admitted to IGP for a month and had surgery. When he was released, we rented a room in Dhanas village because he needed regular check-ups,” says Jai Devi, 70, Sanjeet Kumar’s mother.
Doctors ruled out his full recovery and issued a certificate of 100% disability 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 didn’t know what to do. Once I gave her a liquid medicine for external application),” says Jai Devi.
His permanent disability meant more responsibility for his father. “Fortunately, I was getting a pension so I could make ends meet,” says Sanjeet’s father, Ram Pratap, 80, a retired primary school teacher.
Raising two small children – Sakshi and his brother Mehak – has become difficult for his wife. “During the first two years, I couldn’t go out because he needed to get dressed regularly. To move him on the bed, it took the help of at least two or three people,” says Sanjeet’s wife. , Sapna Devi, 39 years old.
The family got a break with the restoration of movement to his upper body.
“Doctors had assured us that he would regain sensation above the waist in due course. Two Australian doctors had examined him at a hospital in Palampur. They too were of the same opinion. Slowly and slowly he started to move his hands,” says Jai Devi.
Mehak, 13, who studies in class IX, took advantage of this welcome break to play carrom and ludo with his father.
Sapna Devi, who studied up to Plus Two, started looking for a job and soon got a job as a physiotherapy assistant at a hospital in Palampur.
Not to be left behind, a bedridden Sanjeet Kumar joined the family struggle through pen and paper. He will write to the authorities of his department to draw their attention to his fate. “Each month, I attached a request to my medical bills. I would ask them to do something for me. I would get the refund but no response,” he said.
In January this year, however, the HRTC introduced a program to provide employment to eligible dependents of an employee who suffers a disability or dies from an accident while on duty. asset. The work must be given within three months of the incident. To date, 16 people have benefited from this scheme.
Sanjeet’s case was eligible for a remedy under this program. So, as soon as he retired from the service, his wife was offered the position of Junior Office Assistant (IT). His dues amounting to over Rs 8 lakh were also wiped out.
“It’s too little, too late. We cannot compensate him for his emotional pain,” says HRTC Chief Executive Sandeep Kumar.
Sanjeet’s life seems to be on the mend now.
But Sakshi is still worried. “When Dad was in the accident, we were too young to grasp the tragedy. Its enormity dawned on us as we grew up. Then we learned that Dad was in terrible pain. There is a slight improvement. But we know that “He can’t be alone because there’s no feeling below his waist. I can’t leave him alone. That’s why I’ve decided never to get married.”
Sakshi is indeed a daddy’s girl.