Subashree, a victim of a friend’s avarice, does not know that her son has grown up to be a bonny lad who can ride a bicycle.

She is not aware that her husband, an IT professional, has abandoned her. She remains in bed, her limbs twisted, with a vacant expression in her eyes even when surrounded by her parents and grandparents.

Four-and-a-half years ago, now 27-year-old Subashree was alone at home with her 18-month-old son, when her childhood friend Mutharasi along with three others tried to murder her for her jewellery. In the attack, oxygen supply to Subashree’s brain was cut off, leaving her in a vegetative state. Subashree is immobile, with her sensory and motor skills irrevocably damaged.

The four accused were awarded nine years’ rigorous imprisonment on Tuesday by the Sessions court. On Friday, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa gave the family that has spent all their savings on Subashree’s treatment a cheque for Rs. 5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s public relief fund.

For her grandfather, R. Chandramohan, a retired sub-inspector, Tuesday’s judgement is no solace.

In a desperate attempt to make her capable of handling her daily chores, the family sought treatment at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore. After several months of treatment she regained her voice. “She is a doll with life. We had so many dreams about her,” her mother Kalarani said.

Additional public prosecutor R. Maran said the trial of the case began only in 2012. “During the trial, we established the victim was in coma by examining doctors who gave her treatment and by producing medical records,” he said.

The doctor who had given further treatment to the victim categorically deposed that cells supplying blood and oxygen to the brain were struck down and she was suffering from hypoxic ischaemic encophalopathy.

The doctor had stated there was no chance of recovery, Mr. Maran said. “As the victim is still under coma, the prosecution had to rely on circumstantial evidence to prove charges levelled against the accused,” he said.

Subashree’s parents lived in Puducherry before the attack. They moved to Chennai to take care of their daughter. Her father, P. Bhaskar, was a driver. The family’s life now revolves around Subashree, who needs two persons to nurse her round-the-clock. She is fed through a tube in her stomach and has no control over her bladder or bowel movement, her family say.

“We moved to Mugalivakkam as maintaining her in the city was a problem due to water shortage. Here we have a well and there is 24-hour supply. It is necessary to maintain hygiene,” Mr. Chandramohan said.

Subashree’s husband Rajagopal abandoned her a year after the attack and her family is clueless about his whereabouts. “When we learned that he had uploaded photos of her and collected money, we confronted him about it. We lodged a complaint with the Mangadu police but nothing much happened,” her grandmother Chamundeeswari said.

Subashree’s family is continuing to administer her treatment through Indian systems of medicine. In her room there are bottles of Ayurvedic oils. “We apply oil every day as it will help the bones,” Ms. Chamundeeswari says.

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