Mumbai: Deserted by kin, medical store owner, staff take care of elderly patient

Updated: Sep 18, 2019, 07:41 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

On being discharged from Bombay Hospital in Feb 2016, Deepika Punjabi's family had refused to take her back; she passed away on September 10

Jagdish Choudhury and Deepika Punjabi
Jagdish Choudhury and Deepika Punjabi

Punjabi, who passed away on September 10, was staying at the hospital since 2015 when she was admitted for some spinal cord related treatment. Even though she was discharged in February 2016, her family refused to take her back and even she wasn't willing to leave. Since then the owner and staffers of New Bombay Chemist were by her side.

According to a source, the hospital made several attempts to reach out to her family but no one responded over the years. "The local cops had asked us to sort this issue out with the family. Since she had nowhere to go, we allowed her to stay. She would pay for her own supplies and food."

Bond develops

Punjabi's association with New Bombay Chemist, located outside Bombay Hospital, happened when she started ordering adult diapers, anti-fungal powder and gloves from them.
"She ordered from us regularly and around two years ago we developed a bond with her when we found out that she was alone. Apart from medicines, we would often take fruits, tea and juice for her," said Harish Choudhary, one of the staffers.

Owner Rajesh Ranawat said, "Her family never visited her but they would send her money, and she would leave a lump sum amount at the shop. I visited her a couple of times. It's terrible to leave someone alone like this." While most of the staffers visited Punjabi, 22-year-old Jagdish Choudhary shared a special bond with her. "I would spend an hour with her before I went to the shop and check on her again in the afternoon and once at night before leaving," he said.

Recalling that Punjabi would need help in even switching on the fan, Jagdish said, "She couldn't move at all so I would help her drink water." Jagdish, who recently moved to New Delhi to pursue a course in theatre, was shocked to know that Punjabi died of cardiac arrest. "She was sad when I was leaving. I had promised her that if I didn't get admission for the course, I would return and take care of her," he said.

When contacted, her maternal cousin Deepak Madnani said, "Even when the doctors at the hospital said they had cured her, she wasn't able to get up. We asked the doctors to at least help her walk again. How could we take her home otherwise?" He further said that he would be performing the last rites as no other family members had come forward to claim the body.

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