I was just another privileged medical graduate, who fell into this profession at the behest of his parents. Until one day, when an ordinary woman walked into my office, and changed my life forever.
When you jiggled in, with one little girl perched on your hip, and another two tugging behind, clutching the pallu of your saree- you were quite the royal mess. The bags under your otherwise youthful eyes revealed your weariness. But despite the expected fatigue of a young mother of three, I noticed another emotion in your sullen, sleep-deprived eyes – fear. Curious as I was, I began my routine of eliciting a history. “High fever and dry cough since the past 3 days” you said, your words tinged with fear. As you spoke, instinctively, I readjusted my mask, and proceeded.
Handing you your report, I saw desperation on your face, like a final plea to God. My best reassuring face was on while giving you my diagnosis. “Doctor-saab, this Corona, people die no??” To you, a poor illiterate woman, to whom, much of the world seemed a mystery, COVID-19 was a virus that spared no one. As I sat down, calmly trying to explain to you that it was mostly curable, hurriedly laying down facts and survivor stories, I realised that your thoughts had wandered elsewhere. I paused for a moment, allowing you to speak and with a sudden rush of panic you said: “Doctor-saab, my daughter Radha, I breastfed her even today morning! Please, please saab, don’t save me, save my children!!” I was appalled; unable to speak. My attention turned to the tiny human still perched on your hip, sucking on her thumb, deep in slumber. And that was when I had realised the truth behind your fear. Finally I gathered my thoughts and said “I will save her, and I will save you too. We are in this together, Didi.”
The 3 weeks that followed, were exhausting. During the time, Radha and I bonded, and soon, I was looking forward to my morning rounds, just to hear her giggle. Everyday, I held your hand and reassured you that we were going to make it. Even when your symptoms worsened, you stayed strong, and persevered. ”I am all they have, saab.” you’d say. And finally, when I brought you your blood report, tears rolled down your cheeks, onto it, soiling the word, boldly printed ‘negative’. I felt my eyes moisten. Later that day, while preparing to leave the hospital, you held my hand, telling me that these were the hands of “Bhagwaan”; God. It felt surreal. In that moment something in me changed; and for the first time, I felt alive. I realised something about my profession- it’s not the respect or the money, but the satisfaction, that drives us.
Like a mother’s love towards her children, is the doctor’s loyalty and commitment to his patient. It is unconditional, undying, resilient.
Thank you Didi, for being my revelation.
PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research