Sunday, September 26, 2010


It's last but one week of September.In UP and the border districts of MP,all eyes are on Ayodhya.It's fascinating to note how every common man's decision about the week seems to be bordered around the verdict.People wanting early discharges,wanting more medicine,wanting to avoid travel.
The ward that admits the medical patients in the hospital here is a potpouri of socioeconomic mix.It is a large hall meant to house eye patients during season but is at the moment converted into a medical ward.
In the first bed ,next to the nursing station ,an endearing old man in his sixties with Alzheimer's who has developed a scrotal ulcer is bedded.His two sons and his wife attend to his needs and seem to be devoted enough.He is a bundled up mass of silver hair,looks almost like Einstein and wears a blank expression on most days.His every nuances and discomfort are well interpreted by his folks and brought to our notice.Twice a day,i make it a point to walk up to his bed and make conversations with him.We managed to get a wheel chair to take him for a stroll.On his good days there is a twinkle in his eyes and he makes some sounds and moves his hand.Today he caught hold of my hand and would not let me go.I find this whole world of dementia intriguing and wonder what actually goes on in the minds of these individuals.The small joys in looking after them are almost akin to seeing a small child conquering milestones.
In the first bed ,placed horizontally is a muslim women with UTI.Her husband,a tough looking mullah looks tense and seems to be in a hurry to be discharged.He makes the referance to the high court verdict and wishes to be in a safe zone before it comes through.I tell him nothing untoward should happen and assure him of our prayers.His face softens momentarily.I discharge the lady.
The patient on the next bed is a fiesty seventy year muslim lady .She walked into my OPD cheekily chewing a paan and smiling from ear to ear 48 hrs after a major antero-septal wall MI.SHe is like a thermostat in the space,smiling,relaxed,wise and warm.Ayodhya's can come and go-life would go on for her.
Another seventy year old gentleman labelled as cirhosis was brought in kicking,screaming and delirious.Thought it was hepatic encephalopathy but his enzymes were normal and there were no other features of liver cell failure.Treated him with anti-malarials.On the second day he was better but defiant and un-willing to eat a morsel.When I came in for the evening rounds he was at the foot of the stair-case happily tucking in loads of Bhel which his wife was lovingly serving him .I thought I would pull his leg for bit but he started weeping.I never could understand why he was crying.Could it have been a case of MDP?He loved the out-doors for one.He spent one entire day out hanging around the chowk and was back to his normal self the next day.
Eighty year old Sukhi Ram was brought to the OPD with acute onset of swelling in the tongue and infra-mandibular region with inability to speak.He had woken up with the complaints.His vitals were stable.I had absolutely no clue as to what I was dealing with.He was stone deaf and blind in one eye to boot.The tongue was grotesquely swollen and hanging out from the mouth.His clotting time was normal so I treated him with steroids and anti-histaminics.His swelling gradually receded.
When he got back his voice the first word he addressed to me was 'beti'with a toothless grin and began to up-date me about his bowel habits at length while the whole ward listened rapt!.
There were other patients in the ward with a variety of predictable diseases and behavior.
It was an important day in the life of the community they represented but for those who had lived through the longer portion of their lives,for those who had seen it all,for those who had known what it meant to be a muslim or a hindu through the partition days,it was clearly of no consequence.They were too busy living life.
Sukhi Ram,eighty years old,from a lower socio-economic background,a hindu,from the borders of Uttar pradesh-deaf and partially blind,obsessed with his bowel habits, had no qualms about addressing me, an oriental christian doctor, in her late thirties,physically sound in the ear and eye, and under normal circumstances, would be embarrased to discuss her bowel habits in public as 'his daughter'.
This is the India I know of in the rural parts and this is the India I enjoy and have learnt to love.The sectarians can take a walk!

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