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Mumbai saw her survive, Chennai is healing her

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LIFE’S BACK: K. Shankar Narayanan and Nirmala at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai on Sunday.
LIFE’S BACK: K. Shankar Narayanan and Nirmala at the Apollo Hospitals in Chennai on Sunday.

R. Sujatha

She and family were to travel to Chennai for her wedding

“Terrorists were 10 feet behind us when they started firing. I felt something graze my head”

CHENNAI: When terrorists began firing, Ponnuraj pushed to the ground his brother, sister and mother, but not before a bullet grazed his sister’s head.

Nirmala survived the Mumbai terror attack on November 26 at the Chatrapathi Shivaji Terminus where she and her family were waiting to board the Mumbai Mail that departs at 11.30 p.m. for Chennai, for her wedding on November 30.

“They (the terrorists) were 10 feet behind us when they started firing. I felt something graze my head and my brother Ponnuraj pushed us all to the ground,” recalls Nirmala, recuperating at Apollo Hospitals here, after a splinter was surgically removed from her skull on Tuesday. “I was bleeding profusely but my brother would not let me look up.”

Nirmala quit her job at an IT finance service company in Mumbai as she was planning to remain in Chennai with her husband K. Shankar Narayanan. “They were dressed in black and continued shooting for 20 minutes. Around us there were several dead people,” says Nirmala’s mother Dhanushkodi.

Ponnuraj’s wife, who was also with them, was carried away by the fleeing wave of people.

When the firing stopped, Nirmala began feeling giddy. The coolies on the platform helped her brother load her on a pushcart and carried her to the St. George’s Municipal Hospital where she was given first aid. As more victims arrived she was shifted to J.J. Hospital past midnight.

Meanwhile, her father, Ponnudurai, who was in Chennai making preparations for her wedding, received a call and took a midnight flight to Mumbai. When he met his daughter at 4.30 a.m. at the hospital last Thursday, the doctors had sutured her scalp.

“All day functionaries were visiting the hospital but no doctors came. I realised that my daughter needed medical help,” Mr. Ponnudurai, who works as an assistant manager in the Reserve Bank of India, Mumbai, says.

The family flew to Chennai where Mr. Shankar’s parents took Nirmala to Billroth Hospital.

Doctors told the family that the surgery, to remove the splinter lodged in her brain, could be done after the marriage.

She was put on antibiotics and the marriage was performed at Valasarvakkam as scheduled. “My head felt heavy but I managed to go through the ritual,” Ms. Nirmala says.

On December 1, Nirmala was admitted to the Apollo Hospitals here and the surgery was performed on December .

She will be discharged on December 10.

“My reception was to be held on December 7 in Mumbai,” she says.

“I am thankful to Shankar’s family. They stood by us through the thick and thin,” Mr. Ponnudurai says.

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