the mirage

Dr.(Major)Nalini Janardhanan

“No, I don’t want to get cured of this disease. I don’t want any
body’s sympathy. I just want to run away from this hospital …… from
this life! I want to escape and go to some faraway place ….. I am fed
up of this damn life …..”Those expressionless eyes of the teenager boy
made me depressed. I tried to understand him seeing through the eyes
of a doctor as well as a mother. But I failed miserably.

“Sandeep, what is your problem? Tell me” – I asked him with an
affectionate smile.“Nothing much, Doctor! This damn life is a burden
to me. Why is my heart beating regularly without fail? For whom am I
living? I wish I could die…… Let these heartbeats and breathing stop
forever …..” He looked away and sighed. I could see the deep anguish
in his eyes…. Those tearless eyes…

“Do you have pain on your leg?” I asked him. His right leg was
severely infected with a disease called Osteomyelitis. Pus discharge
was flowing from the exposed wound. But surprisingly he seems to be
ignoring it. The pain inflicted by wounds in his heart seems to be
troubling him. Life has given him only sorrows and irritations. A
teenager like him should be full of vigour and fun enjoying  life.
Here he is bedridden with a handicapped leg and disappointed due to
the problems of life.

     “Why are you bothered about that boy, Doctor? You know? his
family has a very bad reputation. He does not deserve our sympathy”
Nurse Sudha’s words arouse curiosity in her mind.“Please tell me more
about his family”-  I requested Sudha.

          “His mother ran away with her lover. Sandeep is the eldest
of the children. He has two small younger sisters. His father is old
and weak and he cannot work much. They are struggling to live. On top
of that, they are facing the cruel criticisms of the society. Poor
Sandeep! Just because his mother is bad, his whole family is suffering
. Is it all fate or some curse?”

     “Stop Sudha, I can’t hear more” – Tears were running down my
cheeks. I am a sentimental doctor and I get easily affected by the
sorrows of my patients. Why did God punish the young boy for his
mother’s act? Why so much of pain is given in his share of life?
Living a miserable life, facing the criticisms and teasing from students, friends and neighbors. Sandeep
must be cursing his life. Now the painful disease called
Osteomyelitis…. The poor boy is like a bud which is crushed before
blossoming into a beautiful flower.

   I sent him home, as per his desire, as a case of ‘discharge against
medical advice’. Days and months passed by. The boy Sandeep remained
as a painful memory in my mind.

       One day morning the telephone bell dragged me out of my deep sleep.

“Dr.Aruna, Good morning! I am Sister Sudha speaking from Surgical
ward. You know? That patient called Sandeep… You remember him? He
committed suicide last night! He jumped in front of  a running train!”

           I got a shock of  my life. I shuddered to think that the
poor boy, my favourite patient is no more. Drops of cold sweat started
forming on my forehead.“Hello, Doctor….Hello!” The phone receiver fell
down from my hand. I felt giddy. My husband held me from falling down.
“What happened darling? I   know the   news.   Nurse Sudha   spoke
to  me   in   the morning. I know you will react like this. That’s why
I always tell you not to get emotionally involved with your patients.
It is only because of your sentimental attachment to patients, that
you are in pain now. Look Aruna, a doctor like you will always be in
misery. Don’t get attached to your patients” –   My husband scolded me
with love. I cried on his shoulders like a small child.

     “Hari, I hate his mother. She is responsible for his death. Yes,
she only killed the poor boy. To hell with her love and lover! Poor
Sandeep……..”I kept on talking to myself. My husband embraced me and
pacified me.“Don’t worry Aruna darling. It is his fate. Just don’t

       I tried to calm down and closed my eyes. In my mind’s eye I
could see the poor boy’s face …….. those miserable eyes…….. those
expression less eyes asking me “ Why this happened to me? Why only
me?”- those seemingly expressionless eyes had grief underneath them.
Those eyes haunted me in my dreams...

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