The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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But life just wonít get back on track

Less than 90 nights after the Rajdhani Express crashed off the Rafiganj bridge, the rail tragedy seems to have slipped out of public memory. But Ranojoy Ghosh, a 40-year-old businessman from Mandeville Gardens, can never forget the night of September 9. Life for him has changed forever since the horror on 2301 UP. Here, he provides a glimpse into the travails of a Rajdhani traveller who survived.

After spending around eight hours in the operation theatre and about Rs 4 lakh, I have a new ball-and-socket on my right shoulder. I can barely move it now, and I will never be able to gain full mobility in my right arm. My spine had a crack in one place and was squeezed in another. I had to go through multiple surgery to put platinum screws on my third and fifth spinal vertebrae, to hold them in place.

It is very painful to sit or sleep on soft surfaces. I have to wear a support belt. When I take it off, I have to hold on to something to keep my balance. The belt makes me stiff.

I have been advised complete bed-rest for six months. At home all day, every day, I sometimes try to read or watch television. But I find concentrating very difficult. So, I spend most of my time sleeping. The inactivity is causing depression.

I feel violently ill at random moments. Sometimes, itís dizzy spells, sometimes, I throw up. I am still suffering from the trauma. I am not dazed any longer, and I am just starting to get over the psychological impact. Itís not an experience that anyone can forget. I still think about it at times, and remember the horror of it. In a way, itís worse when you recall it, because every detail affects you, whereas at the time, you function on pure instinctÖ

It was about 10.40 pm on September 9. I was going to Delhi on the Rajdhani, on work. We had just left Gaya. I was in coach A2, in berth number 44. I was sitting and working. Suddenly, there was a loud thud, and the lights went out. I felt myself spinning. Everything toppled over, and people screamed.

As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could make out about seven or eight people above me, some still alive, others already dead. I was at the bottom of the heap, completely trapped. I was too dazed and numb to be afraid or feel any pain. It was like being in a trance.

It was around 8.30 the next morning when I was finally pulled out. Even though I kept saying that I couldnít sit up, they placed me on the metal ladder and dragged me down like a gunnysack. Arms, legs and severed heads lay scattered, with not a single sheet to cover them. There was no first-aid at hand, and I saw people bleeding to deathÖ

I used to travel on the Rajdhani at least thrice a month on work. I preferred the train to flying. Now, I will take a flight, when I can get back to travelling again. I donít know whether I will be able to travel in a train again. The fear will always be there.

I am effectively laid up for the next six months. My business requires frequent travel, and by the time I get back to some degree of normalcy, I will have run up huge losses, plus the medical bills. I canít work at the moment, because it is hard to concentrate. I blame the authorities for the incident, because that bridge should have been repaired a long time ago. They didnít do their job, and now it is people like me who have to suffer.

We have filed the papers for the measly Rs 25,000 compensation, through a lawyer. But the claims process is being handled in Hajipur, near Patna, although most of the victims are either from Delhi or Calcutta. Every 15 or 20 days, some orthopaedic from Howrah rings up to ask about my condition, and a claims officer came to see me during the Pujas. Thatís all.

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