Volume 6 - Issue 01
How God Built the Life of a ‘Little Builder’
By Mr. Y. Arvind
I entered the cardiac post operative recovery ward at the end of a long day, to have a word with the sister in-charge. It was just a minor clarification. I was about to leave the ward when from the corner of my eye I noticed a small green figure standing by the nurses’ station. Turning I saw a young lad, his face beaming up with a broad impish smile. Returning his smile I noticed the puckered skin of the sternotomy (incision on the breastbone for heart surgery) scar peeping up from the décolletage of the patient gown.
Turning to the sister I asked, “What is he here for?”
She checked the neat register on the counter and replied, “MVR” (Mitral Value Replacement).
“MVR?” I echoed in surprise. He looked too young for an MVR.
“What is your name? I asked in Hindi.
“Bikas”, he replied.
“Can I talk to you for some time?” I continued in Hindi.
He fidgeted uncertainly.
“Which language do you speak?” I asked guessing he was having trouble understanding me.
“Oriya” he replied, then added, “Hindi, mera uncle…” (My uncle knows Hindi) pointing beyond my shoulder.
“Call your uncle,” I said slowly in Hindi.
He grinned happily and in a brisk walk that belied his physical condition he sped off to the pre-operative ward.
I returned with my laptop and he excitedly pointed to his uncle. A short dark wiry man offered his salutation with a bow. He had a strong jaw that spoke of determination; dark irises glowed with defiant will, well muscled forearms betrayed an occupation that involved hard work.
Bikas climbed onto his bed and sat cross legged. His uncle stood humbly with his arms folded. I drew a chair and only after I was seated did he sit.
“I would like to write an article about your boy.” I said.
“I would like the world to know about how your boy received a new life in our hospital.” I said opening my laptop.
“Yes, yes definitely… The world should know about what good is going on in this Hospital. There are so many more that need the help of hospitals like this.” He said enthusiastically.
“Tell me about it.” I said settling back into the chair flexing my fingers on the keypad.
16 year old Bikas Ranjan Pradhan was born to late Abhimanyu Pradhan and Draupadi Pradhan. He was in the 10th standard studying at Sahadev Vidhyapeeth Khadagpur, Jajpur District in the North East state of Orissa. His father was the eldest among six brothers and two sisters. For generations they had been living in Khadagpur village, about 60 kilometers from Cuttack, one of the main cities of Orissa.
“I didn’t get your name,” I interrupted when he stopped.
“Narayan Pradhan”, the voice was strong and confident.
“What do you do for a living?”
“I am a farmer, we have four acres and we grow moong, badam, dhar…all seasonal crops. Our land is next to a canal and we have no problem of irrigation.” He paused and continued. “Everything seemed fine till he started to fall ill.”
We both looked at Bikas.
“When did it start?” I asked softly.
Bikas seemed a healthy young lad who used to play cricket right from the age of five. He started to fall ill frequently and complained of feeling cold. In the millennium year, He was taken to a pediatrician at Cuttack, Dr. Sunil Sen, who diagnosed a cardiac aliment, and referred them to Sri Ramchandra Bhanja Medical College in the same city.
Dr. Mrutyunjoy Behra, the Head of the Department of Cardiac Sciences confirmed the diagnosis as a rheumatic heart disease (RHD) with Mitral Valve failure. (Mitral Valve is one of the four crucial valves of the heart which control blood flow). So the Mitral valve of Bikas was beyond salvage and the only option left was to replace it. The cost of surgery was Rs 2,00,000, an astronomical sum for the Pradhans.
The boy was put on medical management (cure through definite drugs) and the rest was left to destiny. They returned to the hospital every year for checkup and in the year 2003 they met a Sai Worker who told them of the SSSIHMS at Whitefield, Bangalore. They came for the first time in July 2003 for a check up. Since the boy was too young for valve replacement, he was advised specific medicines which could better his condition till he was old enough for surgery.
But in 2006 the condition deteriorated and he was immediately rushed to Cuttack and treated since he could not be moved to Bangalore under his present circumstances. His kidneys began to give way and edema (accumulation of fluid) set in. The family spent 10,000 Rupees on his treatment. It was then that they decided they would come to Bangalore and stay there till the surgery was done – come what may.
Narayan began reeling out the dates, “November 24 we started from our place, November 26 we came to Bangalore, on 27th, we were in the Hospital and were sent for dental check up at St. Johns Medical College Hospital, Bangalore. There two of Bikas’s teeth needed to be filled and a couple of others cleaned and capped. Finally on December 12, he was admitted into the Hospital. His surgery was done on the December 20 and today is his sixth day in the hospital.” He paused smiling at his accuracy.
“What brought you only to this hospital, why not another?” I asked, testing the waters carefully.
“We wanted our son back…and we could not afford it elsewhere...” the directness of the reply shook me. Many would cut a religious angle and talk of the will of God…yet others would wax rhapsodic about the greatness of the hospital and Sai mission but this answer was straight on the mark…Bulls eye!
I loosened up, looked at the boy and switched tracks, “Now that you are back on your feet, how do you feel? What do you want to do with your life?”
His uncle translated, and the boy replied, “Engineer”, and added “Civil” as an afterthought.
“What will you build?” The boy merely smiled in reply.
“What will he build?” I jested, looking at Narayan.
I was surprised to see red eyes with unshed tears. Choking back a sob, the man replied, “He is what is now because of God. Baba will decide what he will build. Baba will guide him.” The conviction in his voice was infectious. I smiled and all around us the patients smiled and nodded in assent. It was a communed recognition of the invisible hand of God.
“Do you feel relieved and happy after the operation?”
The dam holding emotions in check broke and tears coursed down the oaken cheeks as the joy of relief overcame his forbearance.
“I am very happy”, said Narayan, sniffing and wiping his eyes and face. “I am happy that my son has got another life…” tears swallowed the rest of the words. I understood and shared his feeling…life is precious. Very precious, indeed.
“I like this Hospital…” Narayan suddenly continued. My fingers began dancing on the keyboard to keep up with his flow. “The people here are so different. Sevadal, sisters, doctors…I have seen so many hospitals. Back at Cuttack, here at Vydehi, at St. Johns…but the behavior here is different; in fact, totally different.
When they perform seva here they do it in the real sense of service. This is the only place I have seen real seva. Elsewhere it is all just duty, a job…but here it is different. I am convinced that the love and friendship that we have experienced here, we will never get anywhere else in this world…not in this lifetime…” his voice was firm and his eyes gazed at me steadily.
“Those are strong words Narayan bhai,” I said holding his gaze.
A beautiful smile cleaved the strong features and a soft voice replied, “They are strong because they come from my heart”.
Silence reigned supreme.
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Vol 6 Issue 01 - JANUARY 2008
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