she looked at herself in the mirror and sighed.her hair was just drying after the head bath. as nature of her hair,the curls were drying and defying gravity and bouncing upwards,giving her longer than shoulder length hair,an effect of a neck length hair.she hated it completely.why was it that what other girls had so naturally,was denied to her?she loved long hair,all through her childhood,she had survived heartbreaks and jealousies of seeing her cousins have longer hair and cutting them off,while she craved for her hair to grow long,which never happened.they just grew,curled back and framed her face.
irritated with her hair,she pulled it mercilessly and yanked it into a pony tail.
she was running late,her internship at one of the leading city hospitals was to start today.how she hated the very thought,she hated hospitals,she did not know why she had chosen her field of study,which would invariably take her back to hospitals.she was paranoid about these places.to top it,she was assigned a hospital which was a Cancer Centre.
she nibbled on her breakfast,though she wanted to hog away to glory.she was scared to put on more weight.how she wished she had a slender frame,and not the broad shouldered one.broad shoulders looked good on guys,in women it made them athletic.
in the disgruntled mood that she was,she opened the door,murmured the verses,which she always did out of habit,invoked the blessings of the various Gods without thinking about what she was reciting.she banged the door and followed her day.
by the time she reached the hospital,surviving crowded buses and trains,she was ready to call it a day.dragging herself up the steps of the hospital gates,she waited for her friends.
the first impression of the hospital left her wanting to turn tail and run.the thing which struck her was the massiveness of the place with high ceilings which should have actually given a feel of spaciousness.but the ocean of people waiting there gave a feel of suffocation.with a sinking heart she acknowledged the fact that these were patients,victims of the dreaded disease.the sheer effect of numbers left her mind boggled.
by the time she finished that day,her mind was numbed with pain and realization of things beyond her control, number because she was not yet ready to face them.
as the days passed, the technical aspect of hospitalwork left her satisfied, but she dreaded interacting with the patients.
once while hurrying through crowded corridors,where people,wheelchairs,stretchers,doctors,ward boys shuffled to make way to their destination,she was stopped by a young woman,
"Doctor,please can you help me,"she asked.
"i am not a ..,"a heartrending look tried to be camouflaged by the young woman changed her mind,"never mind,what can i do to help you?"
"eer,can you tell me where the Haematopath Lab is?i need to meet my doctor,i got my test results,"
the files were pushed into her hands with a worried,tense look.
"uhh ok,you go through the sky walk to the other building,go to the 7th floor and you are there."
"Doctor,can you tell me what my tests say?"she asked expectantly.
she looked at the statement from the hospital laboratory which in clinical terms stated the absence of any signs of the disease.looking at the worry lines creasing the young woman's face,the immense urge to pacify another human being and professional ethics warred in her.but she knew,that for a patient,it was her doctor's duty to break any news.
"hmm,i am not qualified enough to state anything"she said in as professional a voice she could muster and hurried forward.
a few steps ahead she stopped and turned,
"excuse me,"she called out to the young lady.
in a corridor crammed with hope,death,degeneration and numbness,a human being tried to reach out to another.
"all the best,i think ..you should not worry much."saying so..she hurried away.
it was her time at nuclear and radiation medicine.reading about the technicalities of some body scanning machine,she was disturbed by the sounds of a baby crying.making way to the PET scanning room,she was shocked to see a small baby in the gantry of the machine.she spied her supervisor and asked about the case.they suspected neoplasia and wanted to test the baby's kidney functions,but she was hungry and refusing to sleep.
again the warring emotions jarred in her head.she did not know what to think about the case.with a sinking feeling in her heart,she made her way out of the room.
it seemed that she was jinxed.whenever she was summoned someplace,she always encountered kids.Kids waiting to have their blood tested,kids who dint know any other form of childhood apart from regular hospital visits,tests,kids who will not know what it is to run and jump and play in the sun.
she remembered a particular case in which some medicine had to be injected in the spine of a boy suffering from leukaemia.the assistants were comforting,distracting and holding him so that he would suffer least pain.but the boy was so tensed about an injection poking him that all his muscles were tensed .in that state it was not possible to deliver the medicine.
under strict instructions from their Doctor/supervisor,they were mute spectators to this grim scene.she didnot know how to control her tears as her arms itched to hold the quietly weeping boy.she thought that she had seen enough,but nothing prepared her for the sight of the parents.the living dead,was apt for them.
that was when she realised,for kids it was a bit better,because they don't know any other life,they will not miss what they don't know,but what about the parents witnessing such trauma,to their children.it was like living in hell.
making way back home that day,in a crowded local train,in one corner of the compartment,looking out as evening gathered and the skies darkened,she let herself go and weeped quietly and inconsolably,for everything beyond her control,for people for whom she could nothing ,for the uselessness and unfairness of life.
but as with everything in life,she moved on.
she realised that,kids were kids,be it in the hospital or elsewhere.sometimes,their spontaneous actions left her with a smile in her grim workday.
women with scarves around their head,as the radiation treatment they underwent led to hair loss made her realise her utter pettiness about her own hair complaints.
children who could not eat because their medication left them nauseated,made her value the food she could eat and enjoy.
listless,thin victims of the disease made her feel like a lowlife when she complained about her weight problems.
slowly,but steadily,she came to, not dread her interactions,she realised that people looked up to them to help them,that it was people like her,who were in the field,who should and could make a difference in these victim's life.so what if it would be something as huge as a miracle drug or as small as a comforting hug.
in the hospital corridors and building,were death waited and hung about,were decay and degeneration were reality,she started to see the thin but persistent ray of fightback by patients who had faith in Providence and looked up to their doctors who would go through hell and back for their patients.
she started seeing the essence of human spirit,of never say die...of faith and of survival.of living life completely and loving it enough to fight for it.
and everyday,as she left home and prayed to the Gods,she started paying more attention to what she recited and asked for strength with all her heart for everyone and herself.
(author's note:dedicated to all the Cancer patients,who made me realise about the utter pettiness that existed in me and knowingly or unknowingly played an important role in making me a better person,of making me value my life and its moments.a salute to your spirit and strength.)