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  Volume 4 - Issue 09 SEPTEMBER 2006


By Sri Y Arvind

“The TV will look great in the corner sir”, said the officer pointing to the darkest corner of the cul de sac in the huge Cardio Thoracic Vascular Surgery Post operative ward.

“Well actually it’s better off flush against the wall.” said Dr. Anil Mulpur. “All the UPS plug points are on this wall together.”

“Yes, but won’t the viewing area be limited?”

“Actually the flat position permits more people because it faces the length of the corridor.”

The officer thoughtfully nodded conceding that the doctor was right. On the opposite side of the corridor they had decided to have a Library with books in various languages.

“Amar Chitra Katha will be a good start. We can also subscribe to Tinkle. They are available in almost all Indian languages. The subscription is not very expensive and there are lots of people who will only be too happy to help”.

“Let us get what we can! God will send the other things at the appropriate time.”

They then had a discussion about the various DVD titles that would be good for general viewing.

“Make a list, and so will I. Some from your collection and some more from mine will be a good start.

Cleanliness - next to Godliness

“Right sir! Shall we call the dealer today?”

Continuing their discussion the two walked back to the nurse’s station. Some patients and their attenders were seated near the entrance to the ward. Dr. Anil turned to the Ward Sister In-charge and was giving some final instructions when he heard a soft voice.

“Doctor Saab (sir). Please!”

He turned to find a tall lanky father carrying his baby boy on his shoulder. His wife was just behind him and she was holding a polythene cover which obviously contained the medical records of the patient. It did not take a stretch of imagination to deduce that the child was the one in need.

“Oh! This child has been admitted and discharged four times.” Said Dr. Anil, to no one in particular; then he looked at the sister and the officer and said, “We are unable to perform surgery on him because he has persistent and continual chest congestion, cold and cough.” Three pairs of eyes swiveled to the little baby boy.

Saab…” began the father hesitantly. Dr. Anil Mulpur nodded.

Pleading Desperate Parents

Encouraged, the father continued, “Doctor we have sold everything we have and have come here four months ago. All our money ran out and we had no place to stay or food to eat. I am working near the ashram as a construction labourer and am paid Rs.100/- a day. My family and I are finding it very difficult to manage with this amount! Please help us sir! Please operate on my little boy.” The grayish brown eyes of the father were desperate; the orbs swimming in unshed tears.

Dr. Mulpur and the officer traded looks with the same thought in their minds. It was obvious from the expression in the doctor’s eyes that he was torn as a professional and as a human being. The child was already sick and to operate on a sick child was an invitation to disaster. And the predicament of the family was so poignant that his heart went out to them. He took a deep breath and turned to the photo of Swami on the wall and said, “In the name of Swami…” He held out his hand, “Where is the file?”

In a haste that betrayed their pent up emotion, the parents offered the file to the doctor. In the file appeared the magic words that they had been waiting for months “…Admit for surgery…”

The expressions of the parents were a mixture of relief and disbelief. The mother could not but vent her feelings in tears but the father fought back the deluge with the stoicism born of years of suffering.

Dr. Mulpur turned to the other patients leaving the file in the officer’s hand. The dog-eared, pink cardboard folder held the details of the 16 months of little Pinku Das’s existence. Born to Sanyasi Das and Sarojini Das in the village of Pottamundai, in the Kendrapada District of the state of Orissa, Pinku was their first born and their only child.

The officer turned to the clinical details and read that the boy had a Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD - a hole in the heart). It was not such a rarity and it intrigued him that the surgeons were so hesitant to operate.

The district of Kentrapada in Orissa

As Dr. Mulpur approached the desk, his rounds complete he said, “Make sure that the file reaches the OPD.”

“Sir, going back to department?” asked the officer.

“Yes?” said the doctor.

“Could we talk?” said the officer tapping the file significantly.

“Sure, come on.”

They exited the ward and were walking along the huge balcony that hung over the massive dome area and the central hall that hosted the weekly bhajans.

“Sir, why are we thinking so much about working on the boy? I mean, after all it is a VSD and you have handled so many?”


The Medical Problems To Overcome

“The problem is with his lungs” replied the doctor. “In babies as small as these it is not advised to take up septal repairs with damaged lungs. The chances of respiratory failure are high. The lungs already have a fluid imbalance because of the cough and cold and during surgery we have to artificially ventilate the child. If the lungs are unable to recover after the extended duration of artificial ventilation we are done for. This is just one of the problems. If he contacts any other infection Post Operatively, in the ICU the body will have to fight multiple fronts. The already existing infection, elimination of excess fluid, the added assault of surgery and there is always a possibility of acquired infections, and undiagnosed allergies.”

“Sir, that is quite a bad list,” said the officer opening the doors to the Operation theater complex. They left their foot wear near the slipper rack outside the complex and were standing outside the entrance to the changing rooms.

“That’s why I did not admit him all this while” continued Dr. Mulpur, “I wanted to do it when he recovers but I am doing it in Swami’s name. He will definitely support anybody doing anything with a good intention. And my intention is to help the family get back on its feet. Why don’t you go and have a talk with them?”

The officer nodded and the day ended on that note.

The little boy Pinku was duly admitted for surgery on the 13th of July 2006, a Thursday. Dr. Anil ably assisted by Dr. Manoj performed the surgery and it concluded uneventfully. But the team took no chances. All the medical technology required at that level was used to good result. No expense was spared. Pinku recovered fast and was out of the ICU in three days.

In the post operative ward, one afternoon when the little boy was resting after his lunch, one of the hospital staff who was from Orissa helped translate the story of Pinku and his family.

The Parents Tell Their Story

Twenty-two year old Sarojini Das, the mother, was the spokesperson since her husband was away on some construction site working - earning so that he may hold their skin and soul together. Her husband Sanyasi Das was twenty-eight years old and worked as a daily wage worker in agricultural fields. He earned about 60/- a day and a little more during the harvesting season. He had studied only till the fourth standard since he had to start working to earn a livelihood. He had married her seven years ago and they had waited long to have their first child. And when she finally delivered it was a happy moment.

“I was so happy when my son was born and everyone blessed us that good times would come” said Sarojini. Her voice grew husky and eyes brimmed with tears when she continued, “When Pinku was 5 months old, he had bouts of vomiting and loss of appetite. It came as a shock to us. We immediately went to a doctor in our village, Pottamundai.”


Dr. Nakul Sahu, the medical practitioner in the village diagnosed a heart problem and since the village had hardly any facilities to deal with such complications, he referred them to Sisu Bhavan at Cuttack. At Sisu Bhavan, after all the tests were done and the diagnosis confirmed as VSD (Ventricular Septal Defect) it was estimated they would need Rs.1 lakh for the surgery.

“Where could we go and what could we do?” said Sarojini, her mahogany cheeks streaked with freely flowing tears, as she relived the past agony. “Then we met another doctor. Dr. Anil Kumar also working in the Sisu Bhavan. He referred us to the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences Whitefield.” Encouraged they enquired further and the Sai Samithi of Kendrapada gave them the details of Swami’s Super Hospital at Whitefield.

Now a new issue arose. How to get to Bangalore, and reach the Hospital? It involved the most important thing of all! Money. And they had a negligible amount of it on hand.

Their every need taken care of

All they had was a hut that had a cow dung floor and a thatched roof about five kilometers away from Pottamundai. Sanyasi Das also owned 5 (guntas) about a fifth of an acre of uncultivable land. It was used as pastoral land where cattle grazed. He made a hard decision and sold his land for a paltry Rs.6000/- . He needed the money for travel, lodging, food and other expenses.

They reached Bangalore – a foreign land to simple people who had never left the village and town they lived in. They first came to the Hospital on the 17th of April 2006. The child was admitted but had bouts of cough and cold. Concerned that the infection may spread to the other preoperative patients in the ward Pinku was discharged and was referred to St. John’s hospital for treatment. They approached St. John’s hospital and seeing their pitiable condition the couple was not charged anything for the treatment.

“In fact we met a Good Samaritan who gave us some money to see us through the crisis. My husband refused but that man insisted and gave us the money. I guess, the world still has good people,” said Sarojini with conviction in her voice.

But the undernourished child continued to have recurrent bouts of cold and cough and every time they approached the SSSIHMS they received the same reply, “It is not good to operate on such a small baby when he is already having cold cough and other infections.” Antibiotics were prescribed to stop the infection but the child did not improve sufficiently enough for surgery.

“Meanwhile all our money ran out and we had nothing to eat. My husband then found some work on the construction sites near the ashram. They pay him 100 rupees a day and with that we have been living. It has been about a week since he has started working like this.”

“Then one evening we came and we met Dr. Anil. He admitted Pinku and he also did the surgery. This was the fourth time we came to the hospital…I really don’t know what to say…our gratitude…to Swami and to this hospital…” She choked on the rest of the words. After she recovered she continued “We had darshan of Swami when He was here. And now we want to go to Puttaparthi to thank Him, but we have no money to undertake the travel. We only pray and hope that the God who has helped us so much will also allow us to have His darshan again.”

Her story was so moving that the conversation was ended by the ones listening to her. They left her with her son who was now fast asleep oblivious to the attention he was receiving.

Discharged But Penniless


A couple of days later Pinku was discharged and in the discharge summary a long list of antibiotics had been prescribed to ward off any infection that he may probably contact. This threw up a new problem for the parents. How were they to spend so much money on the medicines when they could hardly make ends meet? Moreover, they had to come back to the hospital after three months for the review. They did not have any money for the journey to their village and back.

This issue came to light when they approached the counseling department. One of the Sai Workers who performed voluntary service in the Hospital offered Sanyasi Das money for the medicines and also some more for their personal use. But he gallantly refused the charity.

“I have received enough from Sai Baba, I must repay whatever I can…don’t offer me money…give me some work so that I can earn the money and take care of my child. I will clear my debt to God as long as I live…I still have energy to work. Please give me work. I may be poor but I still have my dignity.”

A Picture of Health and Happiness

Impressed by the self-respect of the father, the Sai worker immediately contacted others and told them of his request. In almost less than an hour, another Sai worker called back with the good news that the agricultural skills that Sanyasi Das had could be put to good use…they needed a gardener and he fitted the bill. He could work as long as he wanted and they would pay him Rs 100/- a day. The same amount he was earning as a construction labourer but with a fraction of the risk.

Time has passed but nothing can dim the gratitude the family has to Swami and what He has done for them. The family continues to stay in Bangalore and will remain there till Pinku is reviewed.

On being asked what they would do after that the reply was surprising.

“Whatever has happened so far has happened with the Will of God. And what will happen, will also be His Will. We will make our efforts to get back to our normal life in our place but now we are sure that there will always be someone somewhere who will help us. Without that our child would not be with us today. Over the last one year, our child could never sleep well. He used to wake up during the nights and cry piteously. Only after the surgery did Pinku and his mother, have a restful sleep…If God can bring us this far, he will definitely show us a way.”

These words emerged from a tormented soul to whom neither destiny nor the world had a kind word. But when God decides that the time has come…well the story of Pinku says it all. In the face of all adversity Sanyasi Das did not lose faith. He had his self esteem and never subrogated himself to circumstance. The silent fortitude of Sarojini as she stood by her husband and child through all the adversity…a source of support and inspiration…never giving up… there is something to learn from both of them. They vindicate what Swami says, “What you meet in life is destiny. How you meet it is self effort.” Let us pray that not just this family but all those in pain and need of help receive it through the various images of God…we…His reflections…children of immortality.

Dear Reader, how did you like this story? Would you like more of such patient stories in this section of our magazine? Do you have any suggestions for our 'Healing Touch' section which will help you better? Please let us know at Please mention your name and country when you write to us.

– Heart2Heart Team

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Vol 4 Issue 09 - SEPTEMBER 2006
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