During the hot summer months of March and April 2016, I was posted to a missionary hospital as part of my rural training. One day, an elderly,frail gentleman walks in with crutches and a more frail wife! He said,”Amma, I have come today for follow up of my wound. I need a change of dressing today.” I said,”Very well. Wait for your turn near the treatment room area and I will see you there.”
I saw him after nearly two hours. His surgical wound was a non-healing ulcer at the amputation site just below the right knee. I set about the usually ritual that we are taught in Med school for dressing and he din’t wince once in pain! He looked at the ceiling constantly and finally, tears rolled down his cheeks. Somewhere, the pain was overpowering him. Finally I was done. The couple thanked me and left. There was something in that silence and that moist pillow he left behind that made me wait for his next visit eagerly.
And I did see him three days later for his next dressing. I could not hold myself and asked him what actually brought him there. And here’s the story..
This couple were blessed with three sons whom they educated in the nearby town and are placed in official positions now. They were abandoned by their three grown up sons after his amputation for an underlying medical illness six months ago over a property dispute. Mr. and Mrs. Krishnappa left the hospital six months ago after surgery and sought shelter for two nights in a cow shed! They moved to the railway station for the next four days, and than the bus stand and the village market and every smelly, musty place you could find there! Nearly a month later, they found shelter in a small room with a thatched roof, that leaks during rain till date, in the farm of a wealthy man in the neighbouring village. The deal was they provide shelter and in return Mrs. Krishnappa makes flower garlands daily for a wage of twenty rupees!!!! And they continue to survive that way till date. They eat one meal a day and drink ganji for the night. They don’t know hunger now. They hardly feel hungry. They sleep staring at the sky amidst the smelly cattle barn next to them. Their toilet facility unfortunately continues in open air in the fields. They cannot afford medicines but by God’s grace, and i mean it, literally by God’s grace alone, they are holding on! I don’t know what’s kept them alive. Medically, to me, its nothing short of a miracle. But humanly, I am speechless.
At the end of the consultation, they thanked me, but today it was not for attending to them but for listening to them. Over the next two months, what ensued was a special bond that is hard to name. I looked forward to seeing them every three days and she once brought me a small jasmine garland. At the end of two months, I told them this would be my last rendevouz with them and another doctor would see them from next week. They said bye with tears and also that they would miss me.
I still wonder, whose fault is it anyway? Parenting? Education? Society? Destiny? Money? And also, when and how and where will this end?
Through their grit and willingness to live they taught me what life meant to them. In their simplicity and zeal I rediscovered life.
As is wisely said by a wise king a long, long, long time ago:
“There is always something meaningless that occurs on earth. The righteous get what the wicked deserve and the wicked get what the righteous deserve. This is meaningless. So I commend enjoyment of life, for there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Than joy will accomapny them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.”
Let’s Live Life….!!!!!!!