Mumbai: Woman runner who was stabbed in SoBo seven years ago gets back on track

Updated: Jan 11, 2020, 08:06 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

Knifed in SoBo on practice run seven years ago, Tardeo resident to participate in Mumbai marathon; never give up says braveheart.

Meher Lamberaj took to team games like basket ball after the attack so she would not be alone
Meher Lamberaj took to team games like basket ball after the attack so she would not be alone

It has been seven years since Meher Lamberaj was stabbed by two bike borne men at Marine Drive. Lamberaj was on a morning training run on September 13, 2013, for the Mumbai marathon which was a few months away, when she was stabbed on her right arm, as she tried to resist mobile phone thieves. Her assailants escaped on bike but her right arm was slit from elbow to shoulder, besides many slashes.

On Sunday January 19, Lamberaj a Tardeo resident, is set to notch up one more milestone in her journey to psychological recovery when she runs in the 10-km event in the Tata Mumbai Marathon. The 10-km is a recently introduced distance by Procam, organisers of the Tata Mumbai Marathon.

The horror
Lamberaj, 38, said of her 2013 attack, "I was recently divorced then. I am a working mother of two daughters. I decided to run the 42-km (the full marathon) Mumbai marathon that year, going out of my comfort zone, and was training for six months. I was on a long, training run and taking a breather near the Air India Building, Marine Drive. I had my mobile phone in my back pocket. It was 5.30 am and quite dark. I had noticed two bike borne men riding close by. Then I felt a hand on my back. To my shock, it was one of the bike riders trying to take my mobile."

"I held on to his hand and started shouting. I was determined not to let him escape. I have two daughters myself, I want this city to be safe. He started punching me, but the adrenaline was so high that I was not letting him go," she added.

What she thought were punches were not so, he had slashed her many times with a knife. "It was dark and I could not see the blood. Then I felt a sharp pain in my right arm. It had been cut from the elbow to just below the shoulder. I felt blood gushing out. I loosened my hold, the assailant fled. By that time, other runners were rushing towards me," she recalled.

After the attack
Lamberaj was rushed to Bombay Hospital. "Mumbai has a golden heart," she stressed. "The cabbie took me without hesitation. I remember slipping in and out of consciousness. The good Samaritan runners coerced the hospital to take me. I had no money, no identification. I remember shouting, 'I am B positive I have no allergies.' I had not informed my mother immediately because she is a cancer patient. My friends told my family that I will be staying with them for a day, something has happened. My friend had to sign a consent form for the operation and there was a risk clearly cited that I may lose my arm," she said.

Courage speaks
Lamberaj doffed her hat to Dr Vinay Jacob, who treated her. The aesthetic, plastic and re-constructive micro-surgeon said, "She is a wonderful person and such a fighter. She held her composure in the face of the attack and then, never gave up through treatment. There is a message in such courage for all."

Meher said she was psychologically affected by the attack. "I started playing team games like basketball and football, so that I was not alone. For years afterwards, I would see bikers and tremble, even breaking down into tears," she said.

Full circle
Now, Lamberaj is running again. "My right hand has regained some strength but it is swollen. I cannot write more than a page and cannot lift weight with that hand. My mother is critically ill, I have lost my job recently. Running is proving my anchor, like it was all those years ago, before my attack. Once again it is pulling me out of an abyss. I am going to run the 10-km, which may not be much for some, but is certainly a big deal for me. I am hugely overweight now, but determined to conquer that distance," said the warrior who will celebrate her 39th birthday on January 18. "I will spend my birthday, on a short training run. It will be a brand new beginning again. We cannot capitulate the blows life has in store for us. Dust off the mud, get up and run, that is my message to myself and to Mumbai," said Lamberaj who has already won the gold medal for inspirational spirit and resilience.

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