Dharna day 10: Sana visits the hospital

Today we went about the laborious process of reassembling Sana’s documents, lost as they were when the police raided the dharna sthal on August 2. This took all day, with the help of Arun Paswan and Ram Vilas Paswan, and involved Tarini and, me joining Sana and her mother Sakina in long queues of people seeking medical attention at AIIMS. There was much pushing and shoving, some elbowing, anxious patients with bandaged body parts trying to avoid re-injuring themselves, patients groaning on stretchers that cut a glacially slow path between the solid walls of people standing back to back in knots around each door in the hallways. Sakina and Sana were both delightful, assertive, funny, taking the edge off the day’s endless waiting, for re-filling forms, re-diagnosing Sana, and trying to get her an appointment for surgery that wouldn’t give her throat tumor three more years to go. Sana smiled broadly through the day, croaking jokes in her wheezing, barely preserved voice, clambering around her mother as she talked. Sakina dresses Sana in boys’ clothes, and with a refreshing simplicity, she says she prefers the way Sana looks in boys clothes, and the way it enables her to play around and not feel shy around boys. In this and other ways she’s an interesting and spirited woman, completely committed to getting her children treated and educated, but strongly motivated to keep life upbeat and full in the midst of the sickness inflicted upon her family.

Meanwhile much solidarity building happened with the other Bhopalis. The young ladies of Children Against Dow Carbide went to the New Era school today, to an audience of students from class 9,10,11,12. At the dharna sthal, Sashi who works with waste pickers came and extended her solidarity. So did Bhupendar Rawatji who works with farmers who had likewise been on a dharna in 2008 around land acquisiton. We had a second visit from Sudipta, from the Asmita theater troupe. She said her parents are both doctors and that they would really like to extend any help. We gave her a list of ayurvedic medicines we needed and she promised to try and get them for the group.

Later in the evening, Sakina came back to the dharna sthal where her young son dived into her lap to breastfeed. He emerged a good twenty minutes later, looking distinctly satisfied, burped, and proceeded to prowl around, biting unsuspecting adults on the shoulder, as we sat around drinking tea and discussing revolution. We discussed gender. We discussed cross-dressing. We discussed who would be leaving that night and who would return when and who would arrive tomorrow. Until sunset we sat, a small group of mostly gas and water affected people, discussing the overt imperialism of the British vs. the covert imperialism of today; discussing whether parties were at fault, or whether the way the entire sarkar is run is at fault; discussing how we can be the sarkar, the government, how everyone can be the sarkar.

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