25th July, 2004  Volume 11, Issue 2

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Bitter cocktail for barman

Prashantha in happier times with wife and daughter

By Jamila Najmuddin 

As we walk up the pebbled pathway leading to a tiny home, we spot a man seated on a wheelchair with a helpless look on his face. He seems to be overjoyed at the sight of visitors approaching his house and although he cannot stand, he stretches out his hand with a warm welcome.

Having worked in the hotel industry for more than 15 years, R.M.D Mohanlal Prashantha now spends all his time at home with his wife and daughter unable to do anything without the assistance of his wife, on a wheelchair, as he is paralysed from waist downwards. Having worked as a barman at some of the leading five star hotels and bars in the country, Prashantha, like any other person had many dreams and aspirations in life. However, for Prashantha these dreams were shortlived as fate had something else in store for him.

Killer ride

In the early hours of February 27, Prashantha and his wife, Huzaina Adjumain, along with his aunt and cousin sister were on their way running errands in a three-wheeler. Having travelled not more than three kilometers from his house, the three-wheeler that Prashantha was travelling in collided with an oncoming van. "When the vehicles collided, I was thrown out from the three wheeler. The only thing that I remember afterwards was a sharp pain in the lower part of my body. I was taken to the Minuwangoda hospital immediately and was later transferred to the Colombo National Hospital. I remained in hospital for more than two months and it is only after that I was told that my aunt and cousin sister had both died on the spot," Prashantha said.

Prashantha was later transferred to the Ragama rehabilitation hospital where he was admitted for six months. "Since the doctors had given up hope in the lower part of my body, I finally came home after spending almost a year in hospitals. They told me that I would have to spend the rest of my life on a wheel chair," he said.

Helpless

Once an active man, today, Prashantha lies completely helpless on a wheelchair. "I am unable to do anything and I feel completely helpless. I am thankful that my wife only received minor injuries as today it is she who looks after my daughter and me," Prashantha said.

Having a daughter aged 13 years, Prashantha says that this accident has destroyed her life as well. "Since I am unable to work and my wife cannot work as she has to look after my daughter and me, we have no income coming into the family. Without any income I am unable to give my daughter a proper education. All my relatives who were once very close to my family have abandoned us after the accident and today I am not ashamed to call myself 'extremely poor,'" Prashantha said.

Of his 15 years in the hotel industry Prashantha has worked as the head barman at the Galadari Hotel for seven years. "I have also worked as a waiter at Ceylinco Hotels for three years and then at 'The Pub' at Thalawatugoda as head barman  for more than a year. At the time of the accident I was employed at The Pub and after they heard about my accident they gave me six months salary and asked me to leave. Today I have no job and no income and frustrated at what life has offered me," Prashantha said.

Shattered dreams

He added that before the accident he had high aspirations in life and one of his biggest dreams was to go abroad and work as a barman in a hotel. "I loved my job and even in my earlier days I had a dream of going abroad and working as a head barman in one of the best hotels in the world. However, today I spend the rest of my life on a wheelchair and although I have tried many medications - both Western and local - I gave up on everything as nothing seemed to work," Prashantha said.

Prashantha added that today he has to depend on the public for financial assistance. "I am not shy to appeal to the public as I am certain that there are many kind souls out there. When you walked into my house this morning there was hope in my life once again as I knew that God had not abandoned me after all," Prashantha said.

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