Two faces of Humanities…

Just when you feel like your belief on goodness, on humanity will evaporate something like this happens with me that reaffirms my belief on it.  Many a times, i do feel that I have experienced quite a lot, than others of my age, may be i am quite more sensitive to what others feel smaller things, but, such smaller things adds spice to life, it makes your life more complete.

This is a real incident that happened about an year ago, it relates to one of my old friend. We are together since last twenty years or so. He was blessed to have his father around with him till recently, the fact that i sometimes envied, for my dad left me for his heavenly journey quite quite early, and that loneliness always bites even today after sixteen years of his departure. That vaccum will perhaps never fill. Somehow, i looked upon his dad with same kind of respect that i gave to my father, and the man too was a kind hearted one, perhaps, he must have realized my loneliness and would go extra mile to show his care for me. I would feel re-assured with this fatherly figure around.

My friend and i met in our college days and soon became good close buddies and kept in touch with each others till date. To an extent, i owe this government job to my friend, for i was reluctant to apply for government job, it was for his insistence, that he required somebody to accompany his to the exam centre which was far off from our home, that i filled the form. As luck might have had it, i passed off the exam and ended up getting government job, the poor fella was not so lucky though.

His dad was a retired railwaymen, a proud railwaymen, with lots of stories to tell of his career. My dad was an ex-navymen, so when they met, the stories told were entertaining, stories of days gone by, of changing times.

Some two years back, to my shock i learnt from my friend that his dad suffered from cancer and was in last stage of it, with no real possibility of surviving. Railway job ensured that the treatment and travel was free. He was admitted in best of hospitals, but, age now, was not on his side, he was in his 70s and his body was not supporting the cause.The already frail person grew more frail. I could not control my tears to see this lovely man on bed on respirators and needles pricked all over his bodies.

Soon, the doctors gave up, they informed that the man has now only few days left with him and that they better take him back and take good care of his in the last few days of his company. So he was brought back. The man now had already lost his speech, the only part of his body that was seemingly working now was his eyes and his head, he would very slowly nod his head in affirmative or negation to questions asked. I remember, that evening when i with my wife went to see him, i took his hands in my hands and said uncle don’t worry, you will be all right, we wont allow you to go. Streams of tears rolled down the eyes of this old man. I still feel down when i remember the scene.

For next few days, i kept on visiting the friends place quite frequently, may be for i knew that the last person whom i thought resembled my dad, now was with me for very few a days…

One such evening, i do remember just two days before the death of this man, i went straight off from my office to his home. I sat besides the person. He was lying on bed, breathing heavily. His eyes open, looking all around, as if storing everything for his long journey ahead. Surprisingly, enough, his wife, perhaps had resigned to fate, perhaps she knew what was installed. And she did not show that much of emotions. I used to wonder how can someone be so emotionless, especially when you have spent more than half of your life with a person who shared just everything, joy, happiness, sorrows. The thought of living without must have broken this lady, but she was not exhibiting it. One could have given the benefit of doubt to her, saying that she was not showing her sorrow publicly for her kids. But even that lame excuse failed when this happened. Seeing me come, she got up and went to the cupboard and searched for some papers and brought out the bank passbook and gave it to me and in utmost curiosity she inquired with me, what would be the pension that she would get after the death of the man. No, i am not dramatizing events, i am just putting it as straight as i can. I was shocked, I felt sorry, sorry for the poor man who was lying there and seeing all this in front of his eyes. He could not speak but his moist eyes did tell many a stories. How can a person stoop so low, how can a person become so selfish? I got angry on the lady and asked her that evening, how can even she dare to think in these terms at this juncture. May be my friend, realized the gravity of the error, he asked the lady to go away. She went away with the passbook. I felt very bad that evening. That evening the man felt very uneasy and found it difficult to breath. A doctor was called in, he checked the old man and advised my friend to shift the man to the hospital. The doctor advised that though he may not survive, he may at least die an easy death there. But, the friend declined to do so, i felt very bad that day bad for how people stoop so low, thinking for few thousand of rupees that the hospital might have charged they opted for a difficult death to the man. Is there anything called humanity was the only question that evening, I felt very helpless for i was merely a family friend with no powers to decide that evening.

Somehow the man survived that evening, but his conditions had deteriorated and it was evening of Saturday. Soon the realization dawned upon the people there that if the person expired on sunday, getting a death certificate would be next to impossible for the man was not in hospital and no doctor would give a death certificate, added to that Doctor’s clinics remain close on Sundays, as this realization dawned, they started to scout doctors to ask whether they will issue a death certificate if the man died the next day. Just no doctor was ready to give a certificate like this. The standard advise that just all doctors gave was to shift the man to the hospital. The suggestion that was vehemently refused by the friend.

At around 9.00 pm the friend turned up to my house, he told me that it seems that dad might not be able to survive the next day, and he required to ensure that in such a case, the death certificate should be available. I told him let us try with our family doctor. Our family doctor is one of the best person i personally feel, not for his medical knowledge, not for his experience, but for the human values he practices. I took my friend to him, it was around 9.20 pm and the doctor was winding up for the day. I entered his clinic and introduced my friend to him and told all the story in brief and showed the papers. The doctor saw the papers and said he can give the death certificate. But, after a while, he remembered that it was Sunday next day and he would be out of town the next day. He said, even i would not be available tomorrow. The hopes i rested on him almost started fading,  when the doctor seeing this happening, came out with one suggestion, he said, he knew it was not ethical, but it was human, he said, he would need to see the patient first to decide. So we took him to friend’s house. He saw the patient, checked him, again went through all the papers and then took us to another room, we three sat there and the doctor took out his letterhead handed over to me and asked me to write the death certificate, he dictated the words to me, he told me to keep the date and time blank, nobody afterall could predict death.  The doctor signed the blank death certificate. Weird as it may sound, unethical as it may sound, but, i still consider it was one of the most human acts that a doctor could have done.

As fate would have it, the fake certificate was not required, as the old railwayman battled that sunday only to call it a day on monday morning. At around 8 am i got call from my friend that his dad passed off.

The man finally gave it up, he must have left the world with even more heavy a heart, death perhaps might have come to his rescue for living in this world working endlessly to ensure good days for his wife and children brought him naught. The wife and children could not provide the old man few good days in his need of hour.

After this incident, somehow, i have reduced contact with the friend quite a bit. May be the empty house now makes me feel more emptier. That few days showed me how one stooped so low, and the noble act of the doctor showed, how one can still find hope in despair..


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One thought on “Two faces of Humanities…”

  1. This was an interesting post which between the lines shows the many faces of mankind (which in my opinion are also the many faces of religion, or gods). Good, evil, greed, concern; outrage, no shame, self-shame, loss of someone dearly loved and the various outlooks, points of view and feelings regarding it – and the old man, like a pawn – no action in the story and yet everything focuses on him – it is an almost Hemingway-ish type of tale.

    Odd, we were reading the old woman’s reaction to her husband’s impending death; we just had a death here: an accidental one, the man, related to my wife, worked in a factory when an air compressor blew up, killing him. His wife got the news on the cell phone while on the road and pulled over; overwrought, she could not drive, she was more than 200 km away – and the police took sympathy and drove her home. Currently she is heavily sedated. Her husband was 70 years old, lived and worked at the same place ALL his life. She is devastated – but I looked at this and considered his pension, his home – and see that she will be rather well off (financially) in the end. That was my first concern: for the living rather than the dead; whereas my wife and the women of the family have rushed to her aid.

    Odd, the things that people do . . . the many faces we show.

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