Back when I was a schoolgirl, there used to come a show called “Sanjeevni” on Star Plus. The show was about the life of young doctors, their camaraderie with each other, the cases they used to take care of, and the general relationships between doctors and administration. One can assume it to be a much lighter variant of the show “House”. One thing the viewer carries with him after watching such shows is that despite the emergency cases being looked after, the whole scene remains extremely aesthetically pleasing. Clean and shiny tiles, ailing yet beautiful patients, zero-chaotic patients, and their attendees, followed by a sugarcoated staff. It feels good to dream about that world. The dream however has a murky reality that is flashed at one’s face the moment a person visits a hospital (especially a public-funded) in reality, at least in India.
Today for some professional reasons, I went to a government hospital in Delhi. The gratitude towards life is expressed with utmost sincerity in a hospital. One can see all kinds of distressed people. Some being held by support, others being carried on stretchers, some old couple wearing black goggles probably after undergoing eye treatment, walking in the corridor slowly, with hands held tight and a parchi (prescription form), and some just walking with determined and confident steps towards exactly the right room and taking just the right turns. I presume these must be the regular visitors. One such lady I saw was bald, wearing a bandana, probably a cancer survivor. Her spirit overwhelmed me. Thus, the patients and their attendees look nothing like the plastic-faced actors on television.
The doctors in the hospital are hounded by people. Whether it is the ENT wing, or radiology department, or gynecology section, there is no dearth of patients and anxiety in the atmosphere. But working here with a meditative calmness on the face are the doctors looking after their patients. A fellow doctor who has recently joined a medical school after 5 years of being a medical practitioner says I miss this chaos and urgency of a hospital already in a few months of joining academics. The doctor’s canteen in the hospital says all about the doctors working there, “24 hours”.
A major setback of hospitals and distinction from their flowery television counterparts are the aesthetics of a real hospital. What I observed was that amongst all the accessories available in a hospital for the public there is only one thing that shines like gold, and that is the information notices. Euphemistically stating, if this is a knowledge transferring and attention-seeking strategy then it certainly met its goal, but euphemism must have its limits too! The aesthetics of the trying place reminded me of Ghalib’s sher:
उनके देखे से जो आ जाती है चेहरे पे रौनक,
वो समझते हैं, कि बीमार का हाल अच्छा है।मिर्जा गालिब
But whatever it may be, thanks to the doctors and the hospital staff for your dedication and service. Is there anything nobler than easing and curing others’ pain? I guess not.