'I don't want to miss my exams'
Three days after her school bus driver ran her over with his ears plugged to music, six-year-old Zahraa Sheikh says she can't wait to join her friends at school and munch on her favourite food
Even though she is in obvious pain evident from the blood clots in her eyes and bruises on her slight frame it is six-year-old Zahraa Sheikh's indomitable spirit that is most noticeable, at first glance.
Though she is recuperating from major trauma, the feisty child has effortlessly charmed her way into the hearts of all the doctors and nurses who are tending to her, with her endearing naivete and the volley of innocent questions she subjects them to.
Zahraa had the whole city on tenterhooks a few days back, when she was hit by her own school bus on Tuesday evening, after she and her 11-year-old brother Junaid had alighted from the vehicle to walk to their home on St Anthony Road, in Vakola ('Ears plugged to music, bus driver hits 6-year-old', February 2).
As she recuperates in the paediatric ICU of Nanavati Hospital, her cheeriness and fortitude make it difficult to believe that she has escaped death by a whisker. She recently left a doctor nonplussed, asking him artlessly if he was related to the nurse, as he referred to her as 'sister'.
Missing her friends
Yesterday, her childlike fervour to recover and return to the playful company of her friends from Podar School was palpable. The colour drains from her face at the mention of a school bus, but her eagerness to be reunited with her friends is enough to make her forget Tuesday's trauma.
The child is also worried that she will not get well in time to prepare for her written and oral exams, which are due later this month.
"Agar exam nahi dungi, to mere sab dost mujhe peeche chhod ke dusri class main chale jayenge (If I don't give my exams, then all my friends will leave me behind and go on to the next class)," she insisted, teary-eyed. She promptly recovers, promising not to cry so that doctors discharge her early.
"Driver uncle ne itne zor se mujhe mara, meri eyes black ho gayi (Driver uncle hit me so hard that my eyes went black)," she said, recollecting the accident which caused multiple blunt injuries and abrasions all over her body.
Subsequent medical tests revealed a lung contusion, resulting from internal tissue bleeding, due to trauma.
"I have asked my Ammi (mother) to prepare my favorite spaghetti in white sauce, when I go home," she said. "I can't have chicken burgers and pizza here, nor surf the Internet," she complained grudgingly.
She's got mail
She is thrilled at receiving a get-well card from her school friends, with her favourite cartoon character Winnie the Pooh and a special handwritten message. In the card, one sees a thoughtful message from friend Khatija, which says 'I want to share my tiffin with you'.
On being informed that there is a small playroom with swings and slides outside the paediatric ward, she immediately requested that her mother click some photographs of it and show her how to use the different play gear, once she is well.
Zahraa's schoolteachers, who visited her, described her as a bubbly and talkative child, who is always chattering with friends as well as with strangers. Doctors at the hospital who are treating her say it is this very positive spirit that will help her bounce back from the accident.
Zahraa's mother Juwairiah Sheikh said her only concern was that her daughter returned home safe and healthy. "We have no complaints against the school, but would want precautions to be taken so that such accidents, borne out of the carelessness of the driver, do not repeat. My three children study in Podar, and we never had any such problems in the past," she said.
The Other Side
Sanjeev Lele, Transport manager at Podar School, said, "We are still investigating the matter, to determine what happened in the bus. The female attendant is also to blame. We already have a list of dos and don'ts in place for school bus drivers. We are working on them now to make them stricter."