Hyderabad: It was an ordinary day for 19-year-old Jasper Paul as he made his way back home via the Secunderabad station route.
The sight of homeless people begging for money on the streets was the usual one, but Paul remembers what caught his eye.
Among them was a frail old woman just lying on the footpath.
There were flies buzzing over her, pieces of scattered bread crumbs and a few coins; people were just passing by and Jasper, almost did.
“But I turned around. I knew I had to do something, but didn’t know what; moreover, I didn’t have resources either. I then decided to call up a few friends who could help me out. And after several calls, I went back to the woman,” says Jasper, as he recalls a day of extraordinary twists and turns.
Not fluent in Telugu, Paul then decided to converse with the old lady and asked her what she was in need of.
Jasper Paul and Rahul Pasupala with Padmavati
In the meanwhile, another homeless man came up to Jasper and told him that the old lady had been lying at this same spot for the past five days.
“Her name is Padmavati and she was abandoned by her three children,” he says.
“While on the road, she was hit by a vehicle and had been lying there on the footpath, in the sun and the rain, for five days. Her right arm was severely injured and there was an infection which was visible to the bone. There were maggots inside the wound and they were slowly eating away her flesh,” says Jasper, a B. Tech student at St Peter’s College.
He continued to explain his shock. “She could barely open her mouth or even move to pick up the bread crumbs people had left for her. When I asked her what she needed, she said she wanted some coffee and by then a small crowd of curious onlookers had started to gather. I was angry because many of them seemed aware of her plight but they hadn’t done anything about it. So, I yelled, ‘If you have the guts, stay here and look after her or else just leave!’ After that I called the ambulance.”
But, from the crowd, emerged Rahul Pasupala, a student of MLRIT College, who then helped Jasper. “The emergency crew arrived after 30 minutes and said they couldn’t take her in because she’s an ‘unknown’. I called the local police station at Gopalpuram and they asked me to come there. Later on, accompanied by Constable Ramakrishna Reddy, Rahul and I rode to Gandhi Hospital.”
At the hospital, Rahul and Jasper had to personally move her on a stretcher and take her to the designated ward as there were no ward boys.
“The doctors investigated the wound and found maggots so, they asked us to pour turpentine oil inside the wound, to get the maggots out — we had to perform that procedure ourselves because the doctors said they would only dress the wound. Their explanation was that they receive ‘a million’ such cases every day and if we want to do ‘service’, then we should do this too.”
Both boys then removed nearly 30 maggots using just ear buds. “It was disgusting as the maggots were crawling all around; but it had to be done. The surgery, too, happened right in front of us,” he adds.
But the challenging part was finding a place for Padmavati to stay. “We asked authorities if she could be admitted for the night. They refused outright. Unless and until she has an attender, 24/7, she cannot be admitted they said and we couldn’t do that because we had to go to our colleges. The RMO of the hospital, Jeevan Reddy, did not grant us permission either. Instead they made fun of us saying ‘if you could do so much and bring her in you might as well stay with her’,” adds Jasper.
After three hours spent between phone calls to the police station and trying to persuade the hospital authorities, permission was finally granted.
“That was a relief,” says Jasper. “We left her some water bottles and a bed sheet. Then I came across a guy named George Rakesh Babu, who runs a home for the homeless at Suchitra. He decided to take Padmavati in and that’s where she was taken to on Saturday morning. She is now doing fine, her treatment continues. But she might lose the arm if it doesn’t heal well,” he says.
George Rakesh Babu, who runs the Good Samaritan Home for the Aged, Shelter for Sick, says Jasper got in touch with him after someone referred his name to him.
“Jasper had put up a message on Facebook and that’s when someone referred my name to him. Earlier too, I came across a similar case where this woman was abandoned for two and a half months and we took her in. Padmavati is doing fine now, she is eating properly and she’s sleeping soundly like a baby.”
All thanks to three strangers....