4 - Issue 03
"THE HOSPITAL HAS GIVEN ME…TIME"
By Ashwin V
His name sounded uncommon. Even to a busy Hospital like ours that registers over a hundred Indian names each day. That, I must confess, was what got me into conversation with him. “Newand?” I heard myself say, “What does that mean?” The short, kurta-clad figure explained that it meant ‘prayer’ where he came from, a remote village a thousand miles north of Bangalore . He threw me another unfamiliar name that I could not register, but I figured he was talking of his home in far away Madhya Pradesh.
His story was familiar enough. Newand, like many others, thought he knew what a heart attack was all about. Graphic images on the local television told him it was sudden and painful. Understandably, he dismissed his frequent bouts of breathlessness as being unrelated. However, during a particularly uncomfortable period, he was wheeled to a doctor who diagnosed the unthinkable. Rheumatic Heart Disease. A stuck heart valve that needed to be operated upon. The cost of treatment? A prohibitive one lakh rupees to replace the defective valve.
Newand’s sincere smile hid the quiet desperation of a man who wanted to live, but quite literally, couldn’t afford it. That brought him to Swami’s Hospital.
There was a sweet, endearing simplicity in Newand that many of us at the Hospital were drawn to. You just had to ask and he would flood you with details of the many blessings he was showered with; his family, the simple, happy life, his hopes for the future, a genuine love for all things. He walked into my room one day with a small packet hidden behind him and a large grin. “I have something for you,” he said. I looked amused as he held out a single battery between his thumb and forefinger. Then he pointed at the clock on my wall. Its hands were frozen. I hadn’t even noticed that it had stopped. He had.
Newand was an inspiring picture of simple joy through his stay. His surgery was uneventful and, as expected, he had a quick recovery. We all grew pretty attached to his delightful personality and knew the parting would be difficult. A doctor, during a routine post surgical inspection, asked if he felt any pain. “Yes,” he said, and added quietly, “the pain of leaving.”
On his way out, I called on him to thank him for the battery. I was touched by his thoughtfulness. He dismissed my words with a quick wave of his hand. “Before I came here,” he said, “I was told I would die.” “Now I return to my family, many years added on to me. The hospital has given me these years. The hospital has given me…time.”
And then, with a slight smile, pointing to the ticking hands of a clock on a distant wall, he added, “In my own small way, I’m happy I could give my beautiful Hospital some time too.”
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Vol 4 Issue 03 - March 2006
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