Sunday, March 15, 2009

A large hearted man

I was in the hospital for ten days and it seemed an eternity. I had a heart attack in the office and was brought here immediately. After a week in ICU, I was moved to this room where there were two beds separated by a curtain.Though I was stable, the cardiologist scared my wife that the first three weeks and three months are crucial and that anything can happen. He told her that I needed rest for three months for the scar to heal. I was 45 years married with two kids. I was not financially very sound except for the good job I held. This attack rattled me wondering how it would alter my life. Scary thoughts often crossed my mind as to what will happen to my wife and children if I were to die suddenly. I was the sole bread winner for the family. Although my wife put up a bold face and gave me pep talks that I would be soon normal, I knew she was very much worried and I could not come out of the negative thoughts.
In the afternoon, a new patient was wheeled from ICU into the other bed in my room. There was a flurry of nurses moving in and out fixing tubes, drips and connecting to different monitors. A senior doctor along with associates was by his side monitoring the condition of the patient. I wasn’t excited, rather it depressed me more. The curtain hid him and from the things going on. Later I came to know from my wife that his condition was not good with an enlarged heart with practically little strength to pump. Except for the nurses and doctors, there were no relatives or friends seen. He was I was told my age. Things became quiet after some time. Around 7-30 pm, the curtain was drawn open at his request. I slowly turned my face to see a beaming smile from him with a ‘hello, Johnny well met’ attitude.
He said “I am Ramesh Sinha.Don’t be scared by all these tubes and bottles. They would remove them after three or four days. I have grown accustomed to them so much. I am fine and happy despite my being here. What is bothering you? Why are you here? You look young.”
“Thanks, I am Srinivasan.I suffered a mild heart attack and am here since ten days.”I replied.
“Phew, mild heart attack? That is nothing. You will be fit in a month or more and will be your usual self. Nothing to worry at all. Every other fellow gets this in these stress filled competitive world. A little precaution in your diet and a bit of walking will take care of you. You can just forget that you ever entered this hospital.” he said and loudly laughed till his nurse motioned him to stop.
This did not lift my jaded spirit and while I was immersed in thoughts of self pity, this guy was cracking jokes at the nurses despite the attachments all over his body. He had a positive attitude, cheerful and made no complaint unlike me griping to the nurse about a dull pain on the right side of my chest. There was no evidence of fear in him despite the worried look of the nurses and their monitoring his condition every now and then. Again in the night there was an emergency with doctors and nurses making a beeline to his bed. So it was a surprise when in the morning around 7 am, I heard “Hello Srinivasan, how are you? Could you sleep well despite the disturbance from my side last night? The nurse cautioned him not to speak loudly and to sleep for a while. This did not deter him from talking about his office and his work. At 7-30 am sharp my wife came with coffee, fruits etc.Then some relatives and colleagues dropped in with special permission. I forgot about him and the curtain was drawn.
At Dinner time Ramesh was at his best making me laugh with his crazy jokes. He said “Your wife seems very affectionate type. You are so lucky to have her and so many caring relatives and friends. Don’t scare her by pulling a long face all the time. Cheer up particularly when you are well on the road to recovery. When we both go home, we will have a binge of beer to celebrate our homecoming.” It was then it struck me that he had no visitors, not even wife or kids.He must have read my mind and said” “My wife got separated from me a few years back and my daughter is with her. She has cut off all connections and even my daughter is not allowed to see me.” I could see his moist eyes. I was so wrapped up in myself that I never made any enquiry about him and his family But I was amazed at his strong spirit and cheerful ways despite these sad happenings,. I decided to talk to him for long the next morning and make amends for my lapse.
I did not get the chance. When I woke up next day morning, the curtain was pulled between our beds. I could hear the nurses with somber face whispering in soft voices.I called one and asked her .She did not speak but showed her hands heaven ward. Later in the day when his body had been removed, the nurse told me “Ramesh ji was aware that he had less than a week to live. He wanted to remain in the hospital till his end. There was nothing that was medically possible. Poor man, he had none to care for him. He was telling last night that he was enjoying his stay in the hospital thanks to my friend on the other bed and made fun of your imaginary fears.”

4 comments:

  1. Very touching. Ramesh Sinha was a brave man. In spite of his knowing he was going to die, he was positive and brought Srinivasan out of gloom with his attitude. Truly a large hearted man. Very apt title.

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  2. It is true that sometimes in this life we don't get a chance to make up for a lapse or a mistake. But if our feelings are true, the chance comes in our next phase of existence.

    Good story, well-written. Thanks Parthasarathi.

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  3. Very poignant story sir... I'm touched! There is so much to learn from this story....When we realize DEATH, is very near to us, we would always try to enjoy the most...only when we think we are going to live for thousand years. all problems begin...in that sense this is a good spiritual story.

    Great narration sir! Thanks for churning out such wonderful stories!

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  4. Beautiful and heart warming KP.

    Its amazing as to how people like Ramesh in your story manage to put up a cheerful stance inspite of losing everything/everyone that is important to them. They choose to adopt the 'never say die' attitude irrespective of the number of days they have left. While there are some whose zest dies down inspite of having everything they want.

    One should draw inspiration from the former cases of counting their blessings instead of their curses. Really thought provoking.

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