Thursday, July 8, 2010

The Man on a Wheelchair

A hospital is a place where lives are saved and smiles are brought back. But it’s also a place where one finds people in all forms of discomfort.

It’s a place where sometimes nothing is in anyone’s control. I say this with due respect to doctors, nurses and other support staff, who do a thankless job.

There’s a limit to which even specialist doctors can push. Often they themselves say, ”We have done all we can, now let’s hope for the best.”

How much ever great we are, how much ever renowned we are, how much ever rich we are, ultimately it’s not we who take the final call on matters of human life. It’s a humbling thought.
I am at a speciality hospital in Bangalore, where my 70-year-old uncle has been admitted for a health check-up after he complained of breathing problem. There are many like me, relatives and friends of patients, who are sitting out hoping everything will get fine, and we can be back home and resume our normal chores before long.

It’s around 11.30 am. A man in late 50s is being wheeled in on a chair. Two women accompanying him are worried and talk alternatively on the mobile and to hospital staff. A couple of relatives or friends too have joined them.

I gather later that the man suffered a serious heart attack and the doctors said they couldn’t give any assurance about his recovery.

In the next few hours specialist cardiologists are on the job in the operation theatre. Outside, a couple of men too join the small anxious group.

It is quite apparent that the man isn’t out of danger. Kith and kin are being updated on the progress, or rather the lack of it.

Around 4.45 pm, obviously upon a cue, one woman breaks into tears. Immediately the next, and the next. A heartrending sight. One of them, later I realise, the wife, collapses sobbing inconsolably. A few relatives/friends totally dumbstruck by shock are in no better position to lend a shoulder.

One man finds the wall just as good to lean on and shed tears. Two children, may be aged under 5, have puzzled, curious looks on their faces, unable to fathom what has befallen the women.

Around 7 pm, a woman with a kid in her arms, and man, walk in. Emotions breach all barriers once again. A few others, who are in no way related to the bereaved family, too can’t help being overwhelmed.

The man has bid goodbye to the world. Why this goodbye is so tragic is because the world does not get even half a chance to wave back. It’s the suddenness, here-now-gone-now situation that’s benumbing. He is gone, never to return.

We simply don’t know what all have come crashing down with his departure – a prop emotional as well as material, a  security that nothing will ever go wrong: and on top of it all dreams, and more dreams.

Nothing can bring back a life; nothing can resurrect all that have collapsed. If ever there’s something that can heal the suffering, it’s time.

May his soul rest in peace. May the bereaved have the fortitude to tide over the tragedy.

(Crossposted from Kaleidoscope)

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