Thursday, May 31, 2012

"Turn thou me and I shall be turned."

I was sitting in the home of a kindly senior couple who had invited us for dinner when a family breezed in.The young kid had just finished his tenth with a 65% marks and was in a delimna because the school he had applied for needed him to get a higher marks for the science stream he wanted to take up.I was requested to counsel the kid as to what he should go about doing.Even as I started putting the various options before him every nerve in my body protested but I continued nevertheless saying what I thought was the safe thing .
Even as the board exam results are out and there is a lot of hue and cry as to who has passed and who has not and I see a lot of parents tensed up for their wards I watch it all in a relatively detatched manner and pity the children who seem to have no idea as to where it is all leading them.
Strangely enough the picture of a group of skulls standing in a queue....getting up in the morning,going for walk,coming back,watching TV...sleeping and again starting the next day in the same manner comes to my mind.
I actually heave a sigh of relief at some of them who have managed to flunk!Here it is another chance for them to actually get educated and really decide what they want to do for the rest of their lives if their parents,neighbours and people around let them be, to enjoy some time out,to really decide what they want to do. I hope they actually understand that it is a second oppurtunity for them to decide,to reflect and to enjoy the process of getting educated instead of beingpushed around by what people expect them to be.
I have no idea what it would be like if I had a kid of my own ,but I am not sure at this point whether I would be happy with an 'A' grader without an imagination.
The other day my friend was sharing with me about how her little daughter so wanted to join a particular school because her cousin was, in the coming year.This school is an up-market American school which no doubt has a wonderful curriculum but.....
The little girl in question is a beautiful sensitive child who has been brought up well and has always been for me a sort of example I put across for little growing up girls.I am not really sure what more the school in question can put into her apart from the american accent .I might be wrong.
I remember my time pretty well to this day.
I had a fascination for the white coat profession.My mother has still preserved those paper after paper prescriptions I have written as a child signed Dr.Tenzing.Dr.Livingstone and Albert Sweitzer fuelled my tender mind into envisioning what I wanted to do in life.
After my high school,just a few months before taking my infant steps into the world I had always dreamt of, I gave my life to Jesus.
He took over from there.
I don't remember a time when my parents were worked up over anything.To my eyes it looked like they were just watching the whole thing from the sidelines,passive.
I know better,they were on their knees for me.They never pressurised me ,never demanded..they were just there,keenly observing.
They have in the crucial time of my life said a word or two as a suggestion,sometimes entirely unexpected which have been a guiding light to the choices I have made in my life and they have been important such was the decision I made to travel south to have a look at Oddanchattram....that was from my father.
Dr KV,whom I have always considered as my mentor, left me another legacy I carry with me and deem it precious.
He put in me this concept of sabbatical.A time of rest ,a time of reflection and a time of realigning oneself every now and then ...this has lead me in good stead.It has taught me to step back,look at myself objectively,to release,to grow,to listen ,to understand and to be moved.
I am not there yet but with Christ in the vessel I will surely get there oneday.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Eichers,FOG.....and weekend to remember!

I had a lovely weekend with the Eicher's in Landour.
The family was enjoying their much deserved break and was generous enough to accomodate me in their time together.The kids were a joy as always startling one with their candour and alarming wisdom which sometimes leaves you speechless.
We had an evening of colours with Stephen encouraging us to experiment with was an engaging time.
The next day while walking through the figure of eight in Landour I was pointing out my painting to Sheba in the woods below.
At the last minute we decided to attend the FOG church (friends of garhwal) which is just below the happened to be a youth sunday.The worship was an awkward affair,the youth not really comfortable leading the worship.I was dumbstruck and deeply touched by the sharing.There were groups of youngsters spread out all over the church fidgety,giggling and restless.The leader reprimended some of them for chewing gums and leaving the paper inside the church.Finally when the time came for sharing the word of God four young girls and one boy from the giggling group shared from the word in faultless theology.It was no word of revelation,it was not was simple messages which spoke to our hearts more so because it came from such an unexpected chewing gum chewing youngsters.Some of them were even quoting the bible extempo as they preached.There were affirmations from uncle Eicher and Aunty Christie who were obviously elated by what they were hearing.Dr Alex,the orthopaedician in Landour , from kerala has come north for a year.Aunty Christie was expressing her joy at having him around doing a sound bible studies for the group.He was sitting in one corner.I would have surely missed him had I not met him earlier.I was deeply touched .My prayer is that the Lord might raise many more people like Alex who will be willing to quietly invest in the lives of the coming generation in dingy congested rooms without fan,in a place so far away from what he must call home ,in a temporary brings our lives into perspective doesn't it....and how we forget!

Friday, May 25, 2012

God loves the Talwars too!

"Ghaziabad: Murdered teenager Aarushi Talwar's parents, Nupur and Rajesh, have been charged with murder, destruction of evidence and conspiracy in the sensational double murder case in which their domestic help was also found dead. Rajesh Talwar has also been charged with misleading the investigation in the double murder case.  "-CNN IBN live

This morning ,during my quiet time I found myself sobbing my heart out to the Lord...somethings I think had upset me.One was the news of that young child Aarushi,her grotesque murder and the horribly twisted conclusion to the whole case scenario...this whole episode has kept me upset right from the onset.
I look around at the world around me and see the potential and the stimulus for evil.My heart aches for the young kids growing up in a world like this.
The gospel needs to be preached and there is no alternative to it.
The gospel is  spirit breathed and is the Word of God.It has the power to sanctify.
It has the power to heal and the Power to forgive.
I cry for you Aarushi,a mere child of fourteen used,abused and eliminated .. a life lived in the dark corridors filled with men and women who have known no Grace in their lives.You soul would have been brutalised long before your body was.
I cry for you the Talwars imprissoned long before the judgement actually came...already died so many deaths one or two more should not make a difference.
My sincere prayer is that in the dark corridors of the jail but more so that of your heart you will .... find release from the accusations that will come your way.from the public..from the media but most audibly your innner person.
I am not judging you,I don't know if you have committed the crime , does not matter anymore or does it?
There is a way out ,a savior who can release you from the dark cauldrons of the murk you find yourself in,someone who died on the cross for sinners like you and me,someone who says-'come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.'
Someone whose presence in my life makes me cry for your child I have never known and for your souls like as though they were my own.
As hard as it may seem to believe  "God loves you!"

Thursday, May 24, 2012

There are few lesson life teaches you that leaves an impact on your life forever.I have a few junior doctors working with me,youngsters who have seen a lot less of life than I have.Some a decade and some,four or five years younger and I often ,these last few days, find myself taking my learnings of the years out of my kitty and sharing with them.This was not so five years ago.My juniors were much more world-savvy than I am and were friends I literally grew up with.They used to label me 'naive' then, I wonder what they would think now-most of them have moved on in life and must have got savvier by dozen.
The other day,I found myself giving my juniors a lesson from life I had learnt first hand ,as well as vicariously about patient management.
Every now and then we get an over-anxious set of relatives and equally over anxious set of patients who literally leave you flaggerbasted.My juniors came to me to discuss one such patient.They clearly looked harassed.Ten years ago I would have put the lot in a slot but years have taught me that nine out of ten it is God giving you a second chance.
During my tenure in this hospital I remember a time when an ordinary caeserian section was done on a patient.The bystanders were tough and demanding.I am a physician ,so was watching the whole drama un-fold before me while my colleagues beat their head out trying to make sense of the situation.The surgical site was clean ,the sutures were out ,the lady would not budge,she persisted on a stomach ache and the relatives were an angry lot demanding that the senior surgeon in the campus(an exceptional surgeon by any standard )was summoned.He examined the patient thoroughly-there seemed to be nothing wrong.A straight X-ray of the abdomen was done nothing was amiss.The patient was labelled a case of post-partum depression and sent to a higher centre.
Two weeks later the relatives were knocking at our doors demanding compensation ,a swab had been left in the abdomen and was detected elsewhere,operated and removed.By God's grace the patient was doing well.The hospital paid the compensation and the case was closed.
The senior surgeon who happens to be a man of God ,in his practise of over 30 years has a record of never having had any complications in any of his surgeries.He did not do the surgery but he missed the finding.
Later on he went back to the case on his own,and he came back with a resounding lesson on life.He detected seven times when God had actually given them a chance to have a re-look at the case and how each time they as a team had missed out.
I remember another time ,in a hospital where I was getting trained ,a lady was admitted with complaints of a chronic headache,the registrar who was looking after the ward was at a wits end .It is an extremely busy hospital with the bulk of the patient being from medical patients and an OPD of around 3000 a day.It is a 250 bedded mission hospital.Suddenly an old man was standing in the middle of the out-patient ground and was pouring kerosine over himself .He threatened to burn himself in the out-patient if the senior physician ,a man of great repute did not see the patient right then.The consultant,a humble man of God was quick to respond -the lady had a severe pappilloedema-this story had a sad ending the lady succumbed to the ailment a few hours later but the old father was very gracious in that he said that he had wanted the senior physician to examine his daughter,he had obliged and he was grateful.
I got a mail from my sister the other day.She has just lost her mother-in-law,needless to say she was a pillar of strength for her.She told me one thing which struck me .She said she was still fragile!!
Our chidhood was a protected one .I had not seen death in my family till I was in my late twenties and that was of a dear uncle,well-loved and truly missed.Life was one picnic with the greatest struggles being the exams one had to sit through and occasional skirmishes with friends in the boarding school.
I literally grew up in Tumbagara!
In Tumbagara,a small village with a hospital which I guess is all it can boast of even now,I learnt the ABCs of life....I saw life in all it's gory detail....lived it,lost it and perhaps ...somewhere along the way it struck me that this was actually life we were living....
..if ten years ago my sister would have used the word 'fragile' to describe a state of mind it would have gone over my I sort of understand.
Fragile!,what a beautiful word!my sister used it to
Whenever I drive back from the station after a brief stint away from the hospital I make it a point to chat with the driver...they let me know about the going ons in and around the place.My first question was ofcourse about the operation green-hunt...he said everyone in the villages know the term regardless of whether they know what it stands for or not.He hasn't been hearing about too many actions though.The next question i asked him was about the water situation in the area and he had his own way of describing it.I believe the Parhayas of Salaiya have this practise of digging the ground near the river with their bare hands to get themselves drinking water..this year he says they had had to dig deep and dig hard for the water.
One of our seniors was visiting from abroad.
While speaking in one of the devotions,he was reminding us how fortunate we were to start off a day's work with the morning prayer.He asked us if we were aware of it.
Having worked in a mission hospital for most of my adult life it is a norm but for me every day,a good time of corporate worship with devotion before the work starts off continues to be precious.I remember during my post-grad days running to the chapel early in the morning to sit on the cold cement ground of the ODC chapel to listen to the nursing students singing those melodiously beautiful Malyali and Tamil songs ,not that I understood too much of it ,but it used to be ethereal.Even now in HCH,the OPD staffs lead the worship to some out of the worship songs accompanied by beautiful indian and western instruments.Songs like 'Fazal tera hum par prabhu,reham tera hum par' typically folkish and heavenly ,it has the ability to export us to another world alltogether.
Today was one of those days.
Have been mentally trying to go through my NJH kitty to see what I can fish out from my years there.The memories that are fondest in my heart it seems,are the times I spent in the villages around NJH and with the villagers in the numerous get-togethers we organised.Just making them feel comfortable,seeing the joy in the faces of the boys at the arrivals,their heartfelt and absolute commitment to the cause,their unquestioning trust in us and the relationship we shared as a community inspite of the great disparity.They were a generous of their time,which must have been costly for them.
We conducted a camp in Serendagh,which is the hub of naxal activity.
Drove all the way in the hospital van,deep into the jungle blowing the horn every now and then.I remember half way through the trip being stopped by a battalion of young kids with hard faces in green get-up with guns slung over their shoulder.We stopped the van while the two of them walked up,there were a few 'Lal salaams' in the air ,they made enquiries before they let us go .These were the so called'party people'in their get-ups,we constantly hear about,the ghost who walks but is never seen.There was a palpable fear in the air.
I was curious to know how the health-workers in the field differentiated between the para-military groups who patrolled around and the 'party people'.The boys tell me that their height gives them away.Army men have a standard height for recruitment but the party boys come in all sizes.
I would have added,they look a lot younger,harder and absolutely ready to kill as well.
Going deeper into the jungle we suddenly bumped into an open space with a huge building in the middle of nowhere with boys and girls in light blue shirts and navy blue shorts.This is Jharkhand for you.There is almost no jungle or habitation the catholics have not reached.There was a clinic a stone's throw away from the place which had nuns from the God's own country and Ranchi running it.
We travelled further into the wild and then reached a clearing with a dilapidated broken down two roomed complex which I believe is the government's school structure where we parked the car and set our clinics.
As always,it was the geriatric group who were patiently waiting for us.
Even as the clinic started heads started poking out from every nook and corner,mom's and kids with congenital anomalies,lumps and bumps,ulcers,rheumatic heart diseases.....I looked on in helplessness even as I desperately tried to take care of their complaints with the limited resources I had in my hand.
During our time in NJH ,simple viral fevers and cough and cold never walked into the OPD.Amongst the poor villagers there were hardly any migraines,depresion,and the so called diseases of the men and women of leisure.
When we live in communities within a confined space,eighty percent of our time is taken up by non-issues,solving problems which should never have been there in the first place.Viscious cycles these non-issues generate can keep genuinely well intentioned individuals away from things that matter.In the light of the wretchedness and immense poverty of the area that we serve sometimes I wonder if we as a community will have a lot more to answer-sins of omission,sins of comission but most importantly the sin of adjusting and compromising to the whims of the few who continue to take much of our time which .

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Was it God speaking,communicating…?

Reiterating ….waiting …..forgiving….weeping …dying… ….living…healing....reconciling….restoring…..embracing….

Have you….waited…been forgiven…..wept….died….lived…been healed….reconciled…….restored…and embraced?

Are you …reiterating…waiting…forgiving…weeping…dying….healing…living…reconciling….restoring …and embracing…

Can you hear God speaking,communicating?


…healing…living…reconciling….restoring….and …embracing?