The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Numbed survivors fear life after rebirth

Rafiganj, Sept. 11: They defeated death, but are afraid of facing life again.

Traumatised beyond measure, most survivors are numbed and unsure of how to cope with life beyond the disaster.

Ekranul Haque, a resident of Gaya who was pulled out of a smashed coach three hours after the Rajdhani Express accident by villagers, is in a trance. As he is waking into minutes of agonising consciousness between long periods of sedation-induced slumber, he is worrying whether his life will get back on track again.

When the train crashed off the tracks, he was on his way to the Gulf, to take up a job in a private factory.

A management expert, he fears he will have lost the job by the time he recovers. Ekranul sustained head injuries, severe bruises in the right leg and has chest pain. He might also not be able to start the business he was negotiating with a partner in the UAE.

“It was fate that strode through the darkness in Rafiganj. It was a matter of just two-three minutes which has altered my life. I don’t know whether life will be all right for me,” he says before sinking into a slumber again.

He had settled down for the night on Monday when there was a severe jolt, a quake-like tremor and a deafening rattling noise. He was hurled into a cor ner near the lavatory inside the coach and berths came crashing on his body.

He spent a few painful hours in that suffocating coach before the villagers pulled him out. “It is an indescribably awful experience. I have not been taking my food regularly, I have lost my appetite and have not been sleeping since I escaped death. It is haunting me every minute,” he says.

For Mathura Singh, a flight attendant with Air-India, the accident has taken away his repose. Doctors attending to him at Gaya Railway Hospital said despite sedatives, Singh hasn’t slept a wink for the last two nights.

He has damaged his right hand and fractured the other “At 53, when I am supposed to prepare for retirement, life beyond the disaster means very little. And to live with this trauma. No one can travel in the Rajdhani securely now,” said Singh. Especially, when he has seen his friend, K.D. Marith, dying in front of him. They were travelling in the same coach.

Mohammad Habibulla, managing director of Software Bangladesh, was going through an emotional rollercoaster as an ambulance carrying seven Bangladeshis left for Gaya station from the district hospital. Not only was he taking with him nightmarish memories of India’s most famous luxury train, he was looking forward to returning to his near and dear ones and at the same time, dreading meeting some of them.

He had brought his family for a much-awaited trip to Rajasthan. Now, his relative Anish Chowdhury is injured and three friends — a family — Asraf Khan, Roshika Begum and Subah Ibne Khan had perished in the accident. “Nothing is ever going to be the same for me,” says Habibulla.

Dr J.K. Singh, divisional medical officer, said they are suffering from disaster-induced trauma.

“I hope they get over this and are okay soon,” he said.

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