Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Reaching out - 2

“You know..?” I was stunned..!
“Hhhmmm.. Yes.. Got it done myself.. Had a doubt..” he wouldn’t look at me.
I remembered the sister who had cared for the boy that night.. The attendant who had cleaned his wounds..
In spite of repeated instructions the staff forgot to take precautions when they were busy.. “What if one of them was infected..?”
Anger was rising in molten waves..
“Why didnt u tell..?” My tone was sharp..
He flinched.. Just sat there.. with his body bent.. Wouldn’t look at me..
I knew why he had kept quiet.. He had been scared if he would be chucked out of the hospital
Many HIV positive patients kept quiet out of fear .
I was responsible if something happened I told myself.. It meant that I had not trained my staff properly..
I looked at him.. He seemed to be frozen.. Shrinking each moment..
“Dint u knows about protection..?” I asked him..
“Why were you so irresponsible..?” I dint ask him that but that was what my tone suggested..
“I didn’t know doc.”. he whispered.. “Was too young…. In fact I was forced..”

My head started to spin.. Remorse and guilt washed over me..
“ The poor, poor boy..!”
I felt overwhelmed..
OMG!! I had not been prepared for this.. The situation was getting out of hand…
I collected myself. I had to reach out…
“Arjun I can understand why you kept quiet.”
No he wouldn’t look at me
This time I touched his forearm.. He flinched again and tried to pull away. But I strengthened my clasp
“Arjun.. You can’t handle this yourself.. You need professional counseling.. I have a friend in the AIDS center.. You must go and meet him” I spoke earnestly..
He just sat there his head bent..
“Are you aware that that Anti Retroviral drugs can prolong your life..?” I asked softly..
He looked at me..
“Yes Arjun..” I smiled at him
I had got his attention.
I wrote the reference letter..
“I shall phone him up in advance.” I soothed..
“You will need one or two more dressings.. Don’t worry i shall do it.” I told him.
He fidgeted.. He wanted to leave..
“Feel free to contact me any time you need help..” I pressed..
He nodded.
I felt bad after he had gone.. I had not handled it properly..I doubted if he would come back to me..
Docs are expected to be always sweet, understanding and soft to the patient. Anger .. even irritation never forgiven
But he would go for counseling sooner or later.
I signed.. I had done my little bit.
I glanced at my watch. It was not noon yet. I wanted to see my boys.. Badly…
( to be continued)

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Reaching out-1

I was disturbed…Enormously...Kept tossing and turning the whole night.
“How could I tell him..? How would he react..?”
“Did he have a girl friend..?” I wondered... I wanted to meet his mom…
Getting emotionally involved with your patient is dangerous... I know I should be detached...
“Maybe I should ask someone else to talk to him.”.. But no… The situation demanded secrecy...
Absolute confidentiality... that’s what NACO advised.
I should be soft, gentle and nonjudgmental... I decided as I drove to the hospital... Detached... formal... compassionate...
He had been brought to the hospital one Sunday night following a Road Traffic Accident. A 27yr old engineer... lean handsome looks... light brown eyes and an adorable smile... Exactly the type of boy I wished my sons would grow up to be..
Nothing serious... few superficial bruises... and a lacerated wound scalp... I had sutured it.
But some of the clinical findings had made me order the test.

In the hospital I examined the wounds... they were healing perfectly...
The moment I had dreaded had come...
“Arjun, do you stay with your parents “I asked chattily...
“No doc, They are in US now... gone there for my sis’s delivery...” he smiled.
OMG..!! The boy would have to face it alone...!
I could feel sweat gathering on my brows... My gut burned.
“Arjun I have got something serious to tell u...” its really bad news...”
I wanted to get over with it fast...
He stiffened... He stared at me...
“You are HIV positive”
“Oops!! I had said it..”. I felt relieved...
The sexy brown eyes gazed into mine... he paled. He was silent for a moment... I wanted to hold his hands... But I couldn’t.. I felt uncomfortable..Something held me away..
Maybe its cos he seemed to withdraw... Maybe I was not competent enough..
He bent his eyes and stared at the floor... Then took a deep breath looked up at me . He spoke softly... The beautiful eyes were moist...
“I know...” he whispered.
( to be continued..)

Saturday, August 20, 2005


The purpose of my previous post was to share a thought that has often crossed my mind.
I really doubt if I was able to get the message across from the comments I received…
I have often observed that Nature... The seasons... The plants.. The animals.. All seem to be in perfect order, harmony and bliss.
A banyan tree.. a sparrow.. a lion.. all seem to be so calm.. relaxed and stable
No confusions, tensions worries or distractions.
But what about human beings?
We are always worried or angry about something.. We strive for achievement or advancement but rarely have the courage energy or time to do what we really want. Or enjoy.
We compete.. We envy.. We stab from the back for petty gains.
Our selfishness and greed make us wage wars and pollute the environment.

I believe in life before and after our existence in this planet as human beings. The railway station was described to indicate our halt in this planet. And the ‘gods own country’ was supposed to indicate the life before and after human life.

Only human beings have the power to discern right and wrong. Only we have special talents. Only we can dream..
But the humanity struggles ahead while the rest of the universe enjoys order, peace and harmony.
Why is the purpose of all this agony..?
Why is mankind left alone to suffer, ponder , worry and struggle..?
Why everything is kept a secret..?
I don’t like to end anything on a negative note

I truly believe in the bond of love.. That goodness always triumphs at the end.

That we leave our acts of kindness and inspiration behind us even after our death.
Maybe these are the answers. For humanity as a whole.

Do away with selfishness.
Have faith that everything is ultimately for the good.
Harness the power of love.
Yes love is the obvious answer.

Do I sound too self-righteous??!! Too goody goody..??!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


The sleeping countryside rolled past through the window of the train. I was returning home after a conference.
I love conferences. Excellent presentations and discussions... meeting old professors, seniors and friends... good food... wine... laughter... shopping... and finally goodbyes till we meet few months later.
The lush greenery of ‘gods own country’ was soothing after the heat, dust and bustle of Chennai.
The monsoon had carpeted the earth luxuriantly with green. The clear still waters reflected rows and rows of coconut palms. Lilac water lilies bloomed in clusters…
Fat contended cows grazed on wide open fields. Eagles swooped across clear blue sky... fluffy whilte clouds floated lazily. Bright yellow butterflies flitted from one flower to the next.
Trees swayed in gay abandon. The exuberant grass and rushes waved merrily. The banyan leaves danced wildly...
I longed to drift out of the window and blend with all the harmony and rapture.
The train was slowing down. More tracks appeared. Huge poles... cables... lights... plastic bottles, bags and cups were littered all around. Garbage accumulated here and there.
We were approaching kollam station.
I watched the people on the platform.
Men and women rushed. Bodies bent with heavy shoulder bags... clenched frowning faces… some waddled along balancing huge suitcases in both hands. Women carrying sleeping babies tried hard to keep up with rest of the family.
A family slouched on a bench looking tired and bored... probably waiting for some connecting train.. Luggage was littered all around them. Their two kids rolled on the ground trying to amuse themselves
A railway official was talking grimly into his wakie talkie. His body drooped with fatigue. The white uniform was crumpled and dusty...
Today is supposed to be a holiday..! ... We are celebrating our 57years of independence!!!
The train started to move... I felt relieved...
We were leaving the clenched frowning faces celebrating their independence...
We were again entering the enchanting world of swaying palms... lazy clouds... contended cows... dancing leaves and flirting butterflies…

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


She sat before me. Dressed in white… Saggy face wrinkled with time. Thinning silvery hair...The dulling eyes stared into mine... The nose stud twinkled.
My role was to break the bad news. That she had carcinoma stomach.. Progressed beyond surgical cure... we could give Chemo a try. But it could ransack her frail body. She had other complication too... diabetes... hypertension...
To treat or not..?
Her two sons and one daughter were unable to reach a decision.
They wanted me to find out what she felt...
I looked into the eyes………dull solemn eyes... with hundreds of tales to tel...
The warmth of her father’s chest... the tenderness of her mom’s touch...
Moonlight... The intoxicating smell of the damp earth ..and a soft buttery voice.. whispering her name...
The molten pain of goodbye...
An alien house... Her body being plundered by a man she hardly knew…
Warm brawling babies nestling on her breasts love almost like pain shooted through her...
His proud smile as she lit the first fire in their own home...
Quiet evenings spent listening to him talking... about his dreams for their babies.
.Holding the cold body of her 12yr old... and pleading with the silent heavens …to take her life too
More monsoons...
Marriages... grandchildren...
Sitting besides him... holding his hands... and feeling him slip away...
Slowly... softly—silently...
I had finished speaking...
To treat or not..?
The solemn eyes gazed into mine. “Just sooth away the pain baby... she whispered I need only peace...”
I waited for more words... but no...
She had taken the burden of the decision for her children’s sake...
I rang the bell and asked the attendant to let the children in...
She got up to leave. Then turned back...
“Had a wonderful life... should have realized it at the time...” she smiled...
My eyes filled... A lump formed in my throat..I smiled back...

Thursday, August 04, 2005

A Perfect Red Rose

The road was damp and chilly from the last night's rain. Oil spilled over the dirty puddles.
She lay there... her soft tender body bruised and crushed under hundreds of callous feet… Her radiance sweeping out.. Her fragrance long gone..
Her dreams were shattered...
Once upon a time there had been millions of dreams. As she had peeped out shyly from beneath her lashes. A pure innocent rosebud.
Dreams as sweet as the fragrance she treasured deep within her..
Lavished by the soft moonlight.. Drenched by the morning dew.. Caressed by the soft breeze..
The warm Sun had made promises .. As he cajoled her to unfurl into the most perfect Red Rose.
Her loveliness and fragrance would spread all around. Inspiring lovers.. Poets.. Ordinary folks..
She would be adored.. admired.. Cherished..
Her lover would come to her enticed by her loveliness Her softness and fragrance would be his agony as he drowned in her nectar.. Dissolved in her love..
He would murmur her name softly in her ears as he surrendered wholly..
Again and again..
But she had been cheated out of her dreams.. Betrayed.. Sold out for a few petty pennies..
She lay there.. Beyond caring.. Beyond the loneliness that seeped though her. Beyond the pain.. Her insides ripped out..
The huge tyre were more than she could bear… I watched numbly as she dissapeared without leaving even a trace of the loveliness and fragrance behind.