Monday, September 21, 2009

Ghor or not, I like this kalyug!

The other day I walked out of a satsang meeting. Ok I wouldn't have gone there in the first place if I didn't like what the Founder said on TV. An educated lady she spoke with ease, confidence and most importantly, logic and common sense.

But she wasn't there at that meeting was she now? No...there was literally a line of old biddies sitting on chairs and lecturing.

"Is this just kalyug [new age] or ghor kalyug? [there are levels you see, and this is the worst!]"

Other old biddies around me mumbling and shaking their heads...ghor kalyug...tsk tsk.

She then went on to reteirate all the things that were wrong with todays world.

How doctors left 2 foot nails in people's legs.

How the race for money is that of rats.

How relationships mean nothing anymore.

How children didn't listen to their elders.

It was a dog eat dog world out there.

Not to mention the overpopulation issues.

Blah de blah de blah.

I walked out because ...Maybe it is ghor kalyug, but I found there were many, many things in this ugly world of ours worth liking. Frankly I would rather live in this ghorly kalyugged world of ours than anywhere else...even 50years ago!

Women are, for the most part, [legally] not slaves anymore.

We have the right to make choices.

We can choose careers.

Choose our lives first.

Choose whom and when we marry.

Choose to keep a maid and not do all the housework ourselves.

Choose day care over leaving our jobs.

We can go out for a cup of coffee at 12am if we want.

We [all] have the internet.

We are more educated than ever before.

We are becoming use that education to benefit ourselves and society.

We are teaching our children to think for themselves instead of following our lead blindly and
repeating out mistakes.

We teach them to question everything, even us.

We teach by example.

We stand up for what is right.

We prefer spirituality over religion. Or we're starting to anyhow.

We're being more health conscious, exercising, being fitter.

We're realising that coffee has benefits! [selfish i know! But i must, I must defend my coffee!]

Our husbands no longer stand by and watch their wives unfairly mistreated by their

We have google!

We also have blogger :oD !

We have STD calling at 50p/min!

We have, in other words, better communication options...we just need to be better at communing

As for the over population issues...

I think its a good, no, great thing...that we have cures for old age ailments and fewer babies die in infancy and childbirth...far lesser maternal mortality too. We no longer have to die of TB or Leprosy or cholera or pneumonia! [to name a few].

I'd rather see people live and practise contraception to control the population...than see it in check because we have no means to treat illnesses effectively.

What do you live about our ghorly kalyugged world? Do tell!!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good hands Bad feet!!

Dedicated to Nikhil and Sapna didi, who try to catch me when I fall.

We never permit patient attendants to enter the closed doors of the OT [operating theatre]mini OT [for minor procedures and such] ... mostly because it is a privilege and they will undoubtedly freak out and doctors don't like being watched while they do their work, its a cause for anxiety see?

However pioneer that I am, I broke that rule too, just once and just recently.

An 8yr old boy came with 2 deep cuts on his buttock. His father brought him and he really needed sutures. Of course that freaked him out and he kept on insisting v.cutely that he was fine and just needed a band aid or something. Cutely i insisted otherwise too. He was an intelligent and Therefore I knew would also be a difficult kid. So I bribed him and allowed his father to be the one to hold him down in the minor OT while I sutured for all I was worth.

Look, adults are OK, but the idea of pinning a child down by strangers who scold him and threaten him while someone in a mask and white coat does God only knows what to him seems barbaric on some level even if it is for their own good. I know if I was sick I'd want my parents there holding my hand. [or back or bottom or whatever.]

So With much coaxing and listening to the nurse growling thinking I don't understand Malayalam about how I thought of myself and didn't know anything. Mumble grumble. Simultaneously calming the father as well, i proceeded to suture his bottom. It's lots easier in kids and he needed some 14 stitches.

I'm not a sadist, don't get me wrong, but I love suturing. My hands look amazing doing it. which is saying something because usually I'm dropping things and spilling liquids and breaking stuff with them.

8 sutures in, I was lost in my happy place of 4-0 mersilk and scissors and needle holder...a beautiful music played in my head and I was at peace with the world, repairing someone, so tender and fragile...ah...

Where was I? oh yes, By the 9Th suture, the father said..."Doctor's work also requires delicate grace and artistry doesn't it? I've been watching and it's...mesmerising...".

I couldn't help it, I started laughing and laughed gleefully till my stomach ached. The nurse and father both looked at me, nonplussed...

"Did I say something wrong doctor saab??"

"OHhh no. I just wish some of my friends were here to hear your words...You see, I'm known in my circle for being butterfingers and for falling down. If they heard you, they'd probably laugh too...! In fact, just two daya back, We went to this bakery to get an eggless birthday cake. After much searching we managed to get one...and the area was good, posh, but the road and foot path not so smooth and I was wearing heels. We got the cake and my friend wouldn't let me carry it...SO I pretended to be hurt and said - hey I do stitches everyday, I have good hands!- upon which she felt guilty and offered the cake box to me...

I hesitated in taking it...She said 'no no, take it, you're being senti's OK, you carry it...' ,but I didn't take it...instead I said...'no, it's OK, your hands maybe good but my feet aren't as I'm wearing heels...'-'that's what I should walk easily na..."

"Ah...I see...but honestly it doesn't seem like that right now to me dok saab.", said the patient's dad laughingly. Probably thought I was joking too.

Bizarre ain't I?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Uski Rukhsati

Uski Rukhsati.


"Still no movements from the baby?", I asked the would be mother at 8 months of gestation.

"No, and the doctor before you said the heartbeat is getting slow also...whats going to happen? Am I going to have surgery?", asked the 27yr old primi [first time pregnancy] anxiously.

We shall call her Zarin.

"Let me see, but don't get scared, don't worry till we have to because your worrying is bad for the baby ok?",I cajoled.

"Ok but you see please...and please check my Blood Pressure...the nurse was here earlier and she told me it was 160/100mmHg and I am ok...I feel fine so I don't see how my B.P would go so high. Please doctor...?"

"I will do all that and more, but I want to give you ten minutes to calm down first ok? Now, fold your knees to relax your abdomen and I'll just check your baby's heartbeat ok?"

As I had trust issues, even with high tech machines like the CardioTocograph [fetal heartbeat monitor] I listened to and counted the fetal heart beat myself with the aid of my trusty stethoscope. The baby's heartbeat was there but lower, slower. Nowhere near the healthy 140 beats per minute it should have been and lesser than the previous night's 120 bpm. Now it was only around 100-105 bpm, something requiring immediate Caesarean section to deliver the baby but at eight months and suffering from IUGR [Intra Uterine Growth Retardation] would it survive? Not here for sure, it weighed only 1485 grams and the ideal weight for full term babies is more than 2.5kgs. Plus the reason for the IUGR had not been diagnosed yet, but we were to send Zarin for specialized ultrasonography in the morning.

She and her husband seemed so nice. She tried to lighten the mood, make conversation... "Are you married Doctor?"

"Oh no Zarin. Not now and I don't know when because I'm just not ready!", even the thought of marriage freaks me out completely.

"Why?? Ohhh You have someone don't you??", she squealed excitedly.

"Yeah...I do..."

"How long??"

"Five years."

"And you still don't want to marry him?? Why not?"

"It's not that I don't want to marry him...I do love him and will probably marry him one day eventually. But I want to be sure of him. I don't know if he can't live without me. I know I feel empty without him but I have career goals and so does he. We're happy and still comitted, you getting me? B.P's ok Zarin, nothing for you to worry about. 140/90mmHg, sleep will help lower it further and we'll give you something for your anxiety ok? "

"I think it already must be true...or else you wouldn't be with him for so long would you? Plus men aren't as expressive about their feelings as women are...but once you are married and leave him even for a few days...he will call you to come back! My husband did...!"

"I don't know Zarin. But when I do get married I will find you and tell you how it worked out ok? Now get some rest. I'll be here all night and will come hourly to check on you and your baby. You know the drill, you feel anything bad you call me stat ok?"

"Ok, thank you doctor! Good night!" One couldn't stay detached from a patient like that. A person like that...



"Prep the patient, get the OT nurse, Room 4 patient needs an urgent LSCS [Lower Segment Caesarean Section] baby will be shifted to Fortics NICU [Neonatal intensive care unit.]."

It was the end of my shift and as I said goodbye to Zarin and wished her the best for her surgery, I wondered how it would go. Turned out the baby was very sick with a chromosomal defect. Generally with these kind of major genetic defects, the fetus is spontaneously aborted three months into gestation, but this pregnancy continued too far. The spaces in the baby's body were filled with fluid as we had found out on the ultrasound that morning. Brain cavity, abdomen, chest, lungs. There was kidney failure added to all that. Chances were slim, for survival. But we had to try our best.


As I relieved the evening shift doctor I asked him anxiously about Zarin and her baby.
"He was born alive, but didn't cry. There was a huge swelling on the right side of his chest. He didn't he was intubated and put on a ventilator and taken to the NICU. He lived till around 4:00 PM. Then he went. Mother is fine, depressed but physically ok."


"No.Just lying there."

So there I stood, out side Room Number 4, with my hand on the door handle, my heart racing and my face burning. What would I say to this lady? I knew nothing I said could comfort her. I didn't know how to start.

Step forward.
Step back.
Step forward.
And enter.

"Hey Zarin, how are you doing?", I said with a dull smile.

"Oh hello doctor...I am ... are you?", she responded with a smile that did not reach her eyes.

"I'm ok. Let me examine you just a moment..."
Physically she was fine.

"Ok...any your... abdomen?"

"I can't feel that pain Doctor. Mere dil mein itna dard ho raha hai. ", she replied, sadly.

"I...know, I heard. I'm so sorry for your loss. What...if you would like to talk...what happened?", I ventured cautiously, knowing she hadn't cried but needed to. She was quiet for a few minutes. I took a seat next to her.

"Do you think it was my fault?", she asked quietly.

"NO. Why would you think that...?!", I replied aghast... This was the last thing she needed on her mind.

"The nurse in Kashmir said that something was wrong internally. Meri saas ko lagta hai ki shaadi se pehle hi mere mein koi problem thi, koi she is regretting her son's marriage to me."

"Your Saas needs to go out and educate herself. And you need to quit bothering about what an illiterate woman lets out of her mouth. Aap toh padhe likhe ho, you know better. Don't let her get to you. Abhi aapko yeh sab nahi sochna, abhi aapko bus theek hona hai. Samjhe?", I was incensed on Zarin's behalf.

As if daughter in laws didn't already have to hard enough. Working to keep everyone happy including the husband. With everyone ready to misunderstand her and sulk at the drop of a hat. Including the husband.

"Maine dekha tha usko. Ladka tha na...meri shakal thi, poori. Ussey bahar le ja rahey they, toh dekha tha maine uska chehra. Woh dekh raha tha mujhe. Maine dekha. Maine dekha...."

I reached out quietly and gently rubbed her back, before she started to get passionate.

"Din bhar woh Us doosre hospital mein tha na...NICU mein. Mere husband they uskey saath. Main baar baar soch rahi thi, phone kar rahi kya hua, kaise hai...kareeb 3:50pm pe mere husband yahaan aaye...bataye ki mere bachche mein kitne tube aur pipe lagaein hain, uski kidney bhi fail ho gayi hai, uske sir mein, pet mein, chaati mein paani bhar gaya hai. Apne aap woh saans bhi nahi le pa raha hai. Mujhe, pata nahi kya hua....humein laga tha ki shayad bahar aayega duniya mein toh khuda ko manzoor hoga uska jeena...par aisa lag nahi raha tha...", her voice cracked, as did her composure...

I sat silently, watching her face, my hand on her back, trying fultilely to sooth her...

"Main apne aapa kho baithi aur maine bola...maine agar khuda ko manzoor nahi hai uski zindagi toh kyon zabardasti usko tadpa rahe ho? Kyon itne pipe, itne tube, itne machine? Azaad kar do usko, in bandishon se buri kar do ussey...chale jaane do usey...usey jahaan khushi milti hai...mujhse nahi dekha jaata aise... phir 5 minute baad hospital se phone aaya ki woh mar gaya. M-Mera bachcha mar gaya...Aisa laga jaise woh mere liye ruka tha...Duniya se apni rukhsati ke liye meri izazat ki raah dekh raha tha...Ab samajh mein aaya ki maa aur bete ka kya rishta hota hai...ab samajh mein aaya mujhe...", she finished, sobbing into my Lab coat.

And try as I did I couldn't stop the tears burning my own eyes and overflowing. I couldn't stop them and so I cried, albeit quietly, as I held her and helped her cry. I let her cry and didn't tell her to stop. Most unprofessional of me on many counts but she was alone. Her husband wasn't around...

"Maine dekha bhi nahi usko...usko husband ne dafna bhi diya hai...mujhe dekh lena chahiye tha...mera husband bahut ro rahey they...abhi woh ghar gaye hain, bahut dukhi hain."

"Haan...shayad aapko dekh lena chahiye tha... Lekin aapne toh dekha haina...aapne toh uski aakhon mein dekha hai...jab woh tha, zinda tha...vaise hi yaad rakhiye.", I said..trying to console her. But my words sounded hollow and empty to my own ears. I knew there was nothing I could say that would help. I had done all I could.

I didn't have a child. But I had my dog. She and I were buddies and she was the reason I was able to live alone, in a city like Delhi. She was the one who came to me when I was sad, she was the one who waited for me to come home from work everyday. She was not just a dog for me, she was my little girl, my baby and I knew I wouldn't last a day without her. When she was sick I couldn't sleep. I know the analogy is poor, but I love my dog no less than I love the members of my family. That is something they don't understand really and it no longer matters. Point is...I would shatter if anything happened to my little one.

That Zarin was still alive and breathing in and out...seemed miraculous to me.

She had been given a tranquilizer, but it had not kicked in. She cried and somewhere along the way she fell asleep in my arms. I dared not move. Why wake her and bring her back to this living nightmare? Sleep was better. I don't know how long I held her. I don't know how long I cried for her. I should have been used to this by now. I was usually so detached...from such situations but she seemed alone and so lost. My conscience didn't permit me to leave her.

The next morning she was better, having tea. Upon hearing my shift was ending she started to cry again. I left her my Mobile number and home address, again completely against protocol but at this point she didn't need a doctor. She needed someone to talk to.

She was discharged that morning.

I left for home.

********************************************************************************** EPILOGUE:

That night I went to bed with tears in my eyes.

I went to bed because I couldn't stop those tears and there was no one in my life who would understand those tears. I couldn't understand them. Couldn't stop them.

I dreamt I had a baby girl, with my boyfriend's big, kind, chocolate caramel, round eyes and my thick black eyelashes. I don't remember her face as clearly now, but I still see her eyes, her lashes.

I knew my dream would fade, in hours or days. I would forget I had such a dream, had a baby. But mine was a dream...

Could she? Forget that glimpse, that sliver of her baby's face, his eyes?

I would pray for her. Pray she had many, many beautiful, healthy this one would seem like a faraway dream in some long lost time.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

September Tapes.

September Tapes.

Theres a crazy fire in their eyes. Them with the Aks and other assorted weapons. They're baby faced, trying to disguise their age under thick stubble. But they don't need to. The madness in their eyes says it all.

It seems clear there is no reasoning with these people. They're following dictates blindly. Eyes shut, mind shut even tighter. Happy to oblige if it means they appear powerful with the guns, rifles, bombs, dusty jeeps,ability and freedom to kill at will.
No respect for women. No compassion for children. No feelings for humanity existing outside the brotherhood. For it is a kind of brotherhood. Isn't it?

Is it really? There are those amongst the brotherhood who feel opressed. There must be. There have to be. Who else will cause a revolution? Who will rebel against a solitary insane leader and the apparently infinite blind followers? There have to be some among them with a conscience, with a heart but most importantly with a mind of their own. The ability to distinguish between right and wrong.

There has to be someone.