Sunday, March 13, 2005

Kumkum.... and Thali....

I sat staring at the report in front of me ...I could feel anger bubbling up in my gut and surging up my face head throbbed. My breathing quickened...

My PMS didn’t help...i sat there trying to control myself...To get into my calm pleasant bedside manners. My doc act..

I looked up and smiled faintly at the man in front of me...“Your vasectomy was a failure”. I informed him.

I waited for some change in his expression...remorse...shame...guilt. No…nothing...he stared back at me blankly. Almost belligerently. My gaze shifted to the woman besides him...

She sat smiling...her...face was flushed...her eyes brimmed with tears...A lush woman...typical housewife...long oily hair braided. Thali...among the folds of her parrot green polyester sari.... kumkum on her hair parting.

I wanted to smile back gleefully, sharing her triumph. But no.... my doc act was supposed to be balanced, dignified, refined and detached. Especially detached.

I remembered her sitting and sobbing silently in front of me two days back. She had missed her periods. Her pregnancy test was positive. Her husband had already had Vasectomy surgery after the birth of their two daughters. He suspected her chastity... He was torturing her.

She was the wife of koman, a staff of mine. I didn’t like him. He was a trade union leader . Lean oiled body...sharply pressed clothes...oily hair... chandan kury on the forehead...arrogant mannerisms.
i had been surprised to know that he was couldnt read or write..had not gone to school..

I had heard of an incidence that had happened before I had joined the hospital. He had tried to molest a patient’s wife. The enquiry had failed to prove anything. The other staff was too scared of him to testify. A staff nurse, a born again Christian lady had volunteered to testify but didn’t turn up at the last minute.

It was rumoured that he had threatened to rape her.

“Don’t suspect you wife, the child is yours" I told him.

He stared at me. I stared back.

His eyes shifted. “OK” he told and got up to go. I wanted to tell him to be soft to his wife. But he would only become defensive. I smiled at her and told her to go home peacefully.

I wondered how she should have responded. Self-righteous anger?........... Self pity?

No she would go home relieved that her marriage was saved. She would spend her life caring for his aged, washing, cleaning the toilets...Fasting & praying for him.

She would immerse herself in loving & nurturing her kids... TV serials... food.... She would become obese & middle aged.

I closed my eyes & wished her all the best. That was three years ago.

But, my wish wasn’t granted.

Few months back, she was brought with 70% burns to the casualty. She had done it herself in front of her husband and elder daughter.

The poor woman had shown her pride & protests the only way she knew. But how could she? I wondered. Why hadn’t she thought of her kids? I felt I could never forgive her.

Last week he came to see me. His new wife was with him. “Who will look after the kids?” He spoke to no’ one in particular.

Another smiling face.... lush body.... polyester sari...kunkum...Thali....
I smiled at doc act.......“Wish you all the best”. I spoke softly.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Mr moorthys family

Mr moorthy is 83 yrs old..a small thin man with a soft voice and pleasant manners. He comes to see me every month..
He has to travel about 83 km catching two trains..He has to start his journey at 6.30am and reaces home by 7pm..
He travels all this distance because he gets free medicines from our hospital..
He waits for me patiently if i am engaged in my LAB work or administrative responsibilities because I give him medicines for 30 days contrary to the usual practice in our hospital to supply free medicines for only 15 days..
Other doctors objected to my favoritism but they were quiet when I told them about Mr moortythy’s family.
.He comes with four note books in which I record my notes and the treatment given..
Mr moorthy has high BP, coronary artery disease, heartblock and cardiac failure.. in short he may die any day..
His wife is an active lady.. has the usual geriatric complaints… backpain, jontpains tiredness.. nothing serious..
His two sons aged 53 and 51 are mentally ... they also suffer from recurrent epileptic attacks..
they have no other children..
All of them needs to be on continuous medications..
Since he cant travel alone he brings his wife with him leaving the two retarded men at home.. alone..
They r not completely incapacitated.. they will take the food she has prepared for them.. and sit quietly for the age couple to come home..and it seems that the elder fellow looks after the young one..!!
The couple never fails to amaze me they have a little land on which they cultivate vegetables.. he gets some pension.. they have two cows.. the old man looks after them and his sons help him in the job..!
They never complain about their fate..they are always smiling.. he relishes the coffee she makes.. they tell me about the poojas and festivals they celebrated that week..she tells me about the food she had lovingly prepared for her sons that day.. ( she has to get up at 3.30am for that..)
I feel so much admiration for them. To put it bluntly the old man may pop off any day.. the family will be scattered after that.. both of them agree that their relatives will not be of much help..the sons will probably in some care home and she will have to go and stay with her brothers Family…
But they have made the best of the life they have.
.they have a comfortable home.. she prepares delicious food from their own vegetables and milk.. they often go on pilgrimages with their sons.. they share a beautiful relationship..
How many of us can boast of such an abundant life..?!
They came to see me yesterday and presented me with two saris.. I felt embarrassed.. I couldn’t possibly accept them.. I told pay ..but they wouldn’t agree..
I was so kind to them and they wanted to express their affection for me....
I pointed out that it wasn’t as if I paid for their medicines.. I was only doing my job..
But they wouldn’t agree.. mr moorthy had himself chosen the saris for me.. dint ma’m like them..? they asked anxiously..finaly I thanked them and accepted the saris
But I felt disturbed the whole day.. as if I had accepted a bribe from the old couple..
The coarse cotton saris looked a bit odd among my refined silks, chiffons and cottons.
Last night i showed them to my husband.. he looked at them skeptically probably wondering why I had chosen such gaudy colours..
Then I told him aboutmoorthy and his special family..and about my guilt..
He smiled at me.. and told me to wear the saris often…. My heart lightened.. I smiled back at him..