Jun 28, 2008

Reality Show

Teen Paralysed
KOLKATA: The next time you drag your son or daughter to music or dance competition, remember the face in this photograph. She is Shinjini Sengupta, a 16-year-old class XI student of a reputed Kolkata school, who can now neither speak nor move. She wasn't like this even a month ago. She was a good dancer and acted in tele-serials and had even appeared in a Bengali film. Participating in a dance competition on a Bengali TV channel recently, Shinjini was rebuked by the judges of the show during the shooting on May 19. The teenager never recovered from the shock of being publicly chided. She slipped into depression and then lost her speech and finally even the use of her limbs. Shinjini was flown to Bangalore's NIMHANS on Friday evening. "The doctors here have not been able to diagnose her problem. She can't speak or express herself. An MRI and a CT scan have been done, but we still don't know what she is suffering from," said Sibani Sengupta, Shinjini's mother. Till three days ago, she would write if she needed something. Now she has even stopped that. Psychiatrists admit that Shinjini's case, though an extreme one, is not rare. "Quite often we come across such cases. Depression is one of the factors behind a number of illnesses. Shinjini was biologically vulnerable," said psychiatrist Debashish Roy. On May 19, Shinjini participated in a popular dance contest aired from Monday to Wednesday on a Bengali channel. Shinjini didn't break into tears like some of the other participants after being scolded by the judges. "On returning home, she said she felt like singing loudly. I asked her if she was upset. She just said that she had fought hard to hold back her tears. After that day, she was not her usual self," Sibani said. She almost stopped eating and slept for most part of the day. When awake, she listened to music. "Being our only child we never stopped her from doing what she wanted to do. Education was our first priority. If she could manage to learn dance without hampering her studies we were okay with it. Now, I don't know what we will do. All parents should learn a lesson from us," said D K Sengupta, Shinjini's father. Some days later, Shinjini was at Fun City shooting for a tele-serial. That was the first time her parents realised she was facing a medical problem. "She couldn't say her dialogues. The director was a bit surprised since she hadn't behaved like this ever before. We thought she was deliberately doing this. Then we realised that there was a problem," Sibani said. She managed the shoot that day but that was the last time that she appeared before the camera. Shinjini even refused to watch episodes of the dance contest where she had appeared. "We took her to a psychiatrist. She was given medicines which made her drowsy and there was not much improvement in her condition. Since she had stopped eating, her health deteriorated as well and we had to take her to a nursing home," said her father. On 11 June, she was taken to a nursing home and later shifted to Calcutta Medical Research Institute. After five days at the hospital, the family members decided to take her to Bangalore for treatment. Shinjini was in class VII when she won a prize for dance in school.

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