Friday, October 19, 2007

Filial love

-by KParthasarathi Friday, October 19, 2007

I was a young doctor then having completed my internship. I had set up a private practice in that small town. It had not picked up momentum with hardly a dozen patients in the morning and even less in the evenings initially. I had converted the front hall as the consulting room and used the small space between my bed room and the consulting room for physical examination of the patients. Gradually the people started coming to my clinic there being no other medical practitioner nearby. There was one government hospital in the town that was under staffed and lacked many essential facilities. Poor people thronged the hospital though the free service was indifferent.
It was around 2am one night when there was a gentle knock on my door. A boy informed that an old lady in their adjacent apartment had fallen sick and that her condition was precarious. I asked him on the way in my jalopy whether there was anyone else in the house. He said his mom was by her side and that the old lady was living alone. He could throw no light on her illness except that it was an emergency.
I found a small woman in her eighties curled on the bed. The boy’s mom said she heard her groaning and came to see what the problem was. It appeared that she had vomited several times and that she was having high fever. Since there was none living with her and her condition caused alarm, she had taken the liberty of seeking my help. She added that she had come to my clinic more than once and found my medicines very effective.
I examined the lady. She was running high temperature and looked very weak and pale. As she had not taken anything since morning and had also vomited many times, she appeared dehydrated. The pulse was fast. She needed immediate drips and careful monitoring.
When I told her she needed to be admitted into the hospital, she replied feebly “Please allow me to die in peace. I do not wish to live any more. Nobody would feel sad if I departed from this world.”
The neighbour woman added that the old lady has a son abroad but had not visited her for ten years or more. She refused to accept from him any financial help too though she was hard pressed. Except for this flat of hers and a small family pension she had no other income. There is no contact with her only son. There were not many visitors to her except the residents of the complex.
I told the sick lady “You are like my mother. I cannot allow you to die like this. As a doctor, I have some professional obligations. I will take you to the hospital and see that you get the treatment. Please do not refuse, I beg of you.”
I could see her wiping a tear from her eyes touched by what she must have felt as genuine concern shown by a stranger. She said “I have no family left although one born to me is far away. I do not think I will live long. I am coming with you as I do not wish to trouble my neighbours.You are a kind young man almost my son’s age. How much I should pay you for your visit at this unearthly hour and for the trouble of taking me to hospital”
I replied “Do not worry. I will collect it later after you come back home strong and well. I got her admitted in the hospital and ensured the emergency treatment was started immediately.
It was around 8 am when I woke up. I remembered the old lady to whom I had a sort of filial affection and rushed to the hospital. The duty doctor said “Sorry, we did our best. She was too weak .She passed away peacefully early in the morning.”
When I went in to pay my last respects, the doctor added ‘She was talking about some money she owed to you. We could not make out clearly as her voice was very feeble.”
My voice was choked with emotion when I said “She was like my mom. She owed me nothing. I wish to give her decent last rites. I will come very soon with her neighbours for taking her body.”

1 comment:

  1. Another good story from you.
    The doctor did get a payment: the priceless feeling of having done the right thing.