"How is Varavara Rao Doing?

"How is Varavara Rao Doing? Detailed Update about VV

How is VV doing has been a regular question I hear dozens of times every day. In fact that question reverberates within myself hundreds of times. How would he be and what would be he doing right at this moment, he should have listened this, he should have watched this, he should have read this, he should have relished this, he should have expressed his opinion on this… almost every moment and every occasion I think of him. That contemplation always leads me to unstoppable tears for him.

However, whether to answer the questioners or to answer my own self, there is no up-to-date, up-to-the minute information available. Whatever information we get about his health is that he writes in his once-in-a-week-or-ten-days letter or he tells in further delayed phone call. Even as he wrote ‘As It Is’ in poetry, I don’t think he expresses ‘as it is’ about his health. Maybe to avoid our distress, he would downplay his problems.

Moreover, characteristically he would always considers the problems of others more than his own and that may be another reason for downplaying his health problems. To add to that, the phone call automatically gets cut at the fifth minute, abruptly ending a sentence or a word or even a syllable in the middle. Thus, both he and Akkaiah would be in a hurry to squeeze all the things to be shared and thus he would give least preference to tell about his health.

Here is a gist of information compiled from his letters and phone calls:

• He was sent back to jail on August 25 with a “stable and normal” certification, even before he was completely recovered after forty days of hospitalisation in JJ Hospital from July 13 and Nanavati Hospital from July 19. In the subsequent two months since then he was in the hospital ward of the jail for some time and later moved to a regular cell. Even now he is not in a position to do anything on his own, the jail authorities asked his co-accused in Bhima Koregaon case Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferriera to accompany him.

• Now it is everybody’s knowledge that one has to take good, nutritious, protein food during and after Covid. The jail doesn’t have the facilities to provide that kind of special food and he is getting ordinary food as other inmates. Because of this he is still suffering from physical weakness.

• He is unable to get up from bed to go to toilet or to walk. As he is lying down, Vernon is giving him sponge bath with hot water every day. For a few days now, he is able to get up and walk with the help of walker or with Arun’s support or in wheel chair. Anyway, still it is not possible for him to conduct himself without a male attendant. It would have been very difficult if the assistance of Vernon and Arun were not available.

• As he lost control on urination and bowel movement by the time of discharge from hospital, he was advised to wear diaper. A urine bag with catheter was attached. Of late he gained control on bowel movement and feeling that he is able to sense urination. However, the jail doesn’t have a facility to remove catheter and it remains. In fact, retaining catheter for a long time leads to infection. He is unable to take full-fledged bath due to the catheter and urine bag.

• Despite the physical weakness and problems, he has good spirits and will power. The earlier psychological problems of loss of memory, confusion, incoherence and delirium, experienced during June – August in jail and both the hospitals, have disappeared now. Thought process and memory have come back to previous levels. Now he is able to read and write. When Akkaiah was asking him about his health, he talked about Stan Swami, who is older than him, being brought to jail and suggested holding protests for Stan. He asked about each and every person who were arrested recently in Telangana.

• VV is going to turn 80 this week. In a way, he is entering his second infancy. In this state, to keep him healthy and normal, he needs to have pleasant atmosphere, scope to continue his favourite reading, writing and speaking, company of his near and dear, and circumstances that do not upset his body or mind.

• A petition seeking his release on interim bail on the grounds of age, health and Covid was rejected by NIA Sessions Court in June. An appeal on the rejection filed immediately in High Court has not even come on the bench even after five months. A petition filed ten days ago in Supreme Court to either direct the High Court to expedite the process or grant bail, is coming before a bench consisting of Justice Uday Umesh Lalit, Justice Vineet Saran and Justice Raveendra Bhat TODAY. We are hoping to hear some news by evening."

N Venugopal