In an unconscious state, he was taken to the Bhaktivedanta Hospital and shifted to the Hinduja Hospital in north-central Mumbai the same night. The hospital is where he has lain for the last three years.Parag has undergone five neurosurgical procedures. His father Prakash, who works at the Mazgaon docks in the city; his mother and uncle take turns sitting by his bedside.
Parag and Priti had met five years before the blasts devastated their lives. They fell in love and got married in 2001 when Parag was working as an assistant sales manager in a company. Just as they were dreaming of building a future for their child, the bottom dropped abruptly out of their world.The couple had just about begun rejoicing in the news that Priti was pregnant after five years of marriage, that 7/11 happened. From a peaceful life shunting between her parents' home to her husband's home, both in Bhayandar, life became a nightmare. Now Priti travels to Mahim in north-central Mumbai every day. She takes the local, the same train that maimed her husband for life.
Afew months after the blasts, Priti delivered her baby. The Railways that had promised jobs to the next of kin, dilly-dallied in true bureaucratic style. Jobs had been announced for the kin of those who had died, but Parag was alive.
After Parag's father and uncle's relentless pursuit, the Railways gave Priti a job. Now Priti spends her time looking after her baby, her job, her home and her husband.Her parents and in-laws have helped her immensely. Priti leaves for work from her mother's house, leaving the baby in her care during the day. On the weekends she goes to her in-laws's home. Two years ago she enrolled in college and attends classes on Saturday. Priti has passed her second year in college and will graduate next year. She has decided to get a Master's degree as she believes it will help her later in life. Her child is now in nursery school.
Every Sunday she spends the day with Parag at the hospital. "He now recognises me, his parents and his child. He understands us -- like when we say 'eye' he points to his eyes. He says 'Amma, Papa.' He shakes hands when you ask him too," says Priti. Two years back the doctors had said that only time would show if there was any improvement because he was then in a vegetative state. Parag was alive, but not aware. The awareness is returning slowly. "I am eternally indebted to the Railways, they are paying all his hospital expenses," says Priti. Three years after the tragic day, the pain in Priti's eyes is heart-wrenching but her belief that her husband will rise from that hospital bed is a lesson in courage.
Video: Uday Kuckian