Arumugam and Alamelu were shattered and shell shocked to speak coherently. It was all over in a matter of six hours. They had lost their only son Velu aged 8 years as a victim to the rash driving by the reckless drunken lorry driver. The boy was playing marbles along with other children on the only main road connecting the small town with other towns and villages. It can be neither called a town nor a village but had the disadvantages of both. There was hardly any traffic except the occasional bus once in two hours. A few lorries carrying bricks or sand also plied. The drivers invariably slowed down their vehicles at this spot that had a few tea shops, a cycle repair shop, one dealing with fertilizers and a few other petty shops selling groceries, tailor shops etc.They generally had tea and snacks at this place. The boys played generally without fear.
But this driver obviously new to the area under the influence of alcohol did not slow down the truck and ran over Velu. The boy did not die instantaneously as is common but was bleeding profusely. There was no hospital worth the name. There was a small room close to the road going under the name of Public Health Centre. It was manned by a midwife who was generally absent. The room was locked. The driver after hitting the boy drove away in panic without stopping. The nearest hospital was about thirty kilometers away. There was no vehicle to carry the boy. Frantic attempts were made to get some truck that belonged to village. They had all gone out. After losing an hour they found a tractor willing to go.Arumugam with the boy on the lap and his wife beside took the boy to the hospital. The vehicle was slow and noisy. The boy showed a sign of wanting water. There was none. They did not want to lose time in search of water. The bleeding continued unabated and the boy was becoming paler and would not respond to questions.
When they finally reached the hospital it was late. The district hospital was further away by twenty kilometers. Seeing the condition of the boy the doctors decided that they had no time to lose and battled hard with whatever equipments they had and did all their best to revive the boy. When he did not respond, they decided to withdraw the life support. When the doctors suggested to the grieving couple about donation of the healthy organs to the needy, the kind and generous couple agreed to donate the organs free to whomever they are useful despite their grief. They rushed to the district hospital in an ambulance for successful harvesting.
The days that followed were spent in sorrow and misery. None could console the couple for the loss of a child born after many years in answer to their prayers. They reflected on the happy days with the boy and wondered why the God who listened to their prayers decided to take his life. They could not comprehend the mysterious ways of God and wept inconsolably whoever came to them with words of sympathy. They rightly felt that the long time the boy lay in the road for want of a vehicle and the absence of a hospital nearby all conspired against the boy in his fight for life. With such thoughts recurring in their minds, they cursed their fate .It was on one such day a swanky big car stopped a little away from their small house. A middle aged man clad in white dhoti and long khurta in khaddar along with his wife possibly followed by two or three others came towards Arumugam.The doctor who tried his best to save the life of the boy was also there.
The doctor said, “He is a very big industrialist whose only son is of your son’s age got the kidneys of your son. The boy needed urgent transplantation and time was running out. The organs donated by you helped save the boy.He has come with his wife to thank you personally.” The industrialist and his wife wiped their eyes. He said with folded hands “We do not know how to console you in this hour of grief. Having passed through the torment of almost losing our son, we know the pangs of loss. We were ready to spend even crores of rupees to save our boy. We did not get the right type of kidneys till your sons came. We wish to as a token of our love and affection offer you any amount that you wish. We know this is a poor recompense for the irreparable and great loss of yours. The length of one’s life is all in God’s hands. Please fill the first digit as you please” and handed over a blank cheque containing seven zeroes with the first digit unfilled.
Arumugam did not touch the cheque or look at the amount. He said “We do not need any money. We have enough for ourselves. My son lost his life as there is neither hospital nearby nor a vehicle to carry the boy. He died because of delay in giving prompt medical attention. If you can build a hospital to cater to the people in the nearby villages with ambulance at call, we would be beholden to you. The children walk five kilometers to their school. If you build a school, we would be grateful.”
The rich man and his wife fell at the feet of Arumugam and said “I may be rich in wealth. But you are richer than me in your kindness and compassion for others, even when passing through the darkest hour of your life. I promise your wishes would be fulfilled very soon and the institutions will carry your son’s name.”