A Loaf Of Bread (A Human Story)

Bleeding Emergency

She was rushed down to the obstetric emergency rooms with advanced pregnancy, increased blood pressure and heavy bleeding. Almost immediately she delivered. Her baby was a stillborn. It did not stop at that. Because of raised blood pressure and bleeding for a long time before she could reach the hospital, her kidneys failed.  This was indeed a bad condition to have. Thankfully her kidney failure appeared to be of the type where recovery was possible. But in the mean time she needed dialysis. As luck would have it, all the three dialysis units at the hospital were dysfunctional and so she had to be shifted to another government hospital in a still bigger city about a 100 miles away.

Hospital Transfer Ambulance
Obviously she was in no position to spend for her transport but the hospital had the facility to transfer her free in its ambulance. Though the main part of the dialysis at the government hospital was free, each cycle of dialysis would still be costing her nearly 2000 to 3000 rupees. Even if by a conservative expectation of five to seven cycles, the cost would not be less than twenty thousand rupees. The referring doctors knew this. They sent one of their resident junior doctors in the ambulance stuffing his pockets with about twenty five thousand rupees. This money was to be handed over to the doctor on duty in the kidney hospital with clear instructions not to reveal to the patient from where the assistance came. All was arranged and was going well. She started recovering.

Dialysis Unit
After sometime I had an opportunity to go to that city for some academic engagement. Out of concern and wanting to make the patient feel cared-for I visited the hospital to meet her and her relatives. In a typical Indian tradition she and her husband folded their hands in a “Namaskaar” and she had a smile on her face. She was obviously looking frail recovering from a major sickness. What intrigued me was that her husband looked haggard and weak. They were obviously happy at her recovery and had all blessings for the hospitals. But the look of her husband, all worn out and hungry was disturbing.    

On my way out I took her husband with me out of the hospital ward and inquired about his well-being. “What is the matter? Are you okay?” I asked. “Everything is okay, Sir” he replied with a forced smile. I was not convinced. “What is the matter? Your wife is recovering. She has been treated very well. Everything seems to be good to me”. “Yes sir” he sighed. All did not seem to be well. I persisted as I wanted to know what was paining this man. Finally he said: “Sir, I am here in a totally unknown city. My wife has been admitted for last ten days. In these ten days I have not earned a penny. As such at our village too I work as a laborer with a near hand to mouth existence. Whatever little money I had could pull me on for five six days. Now all that money is over and I am not able to get enough food. I get to sleep in the hospital corner. But Sir, Food? My wife gets her hospital diet. She shares something with me. Since then I am not getting enough food to eat. That is the only problem Sir. Lest all is well” and again came the forced smile.


Tears welled-up

Tears welled-up in my eyes at the paradox: Here was a man for whose wife we arranged for free dialysis of nearly hundred thousand rupees but for him we could not arrange - a loaf of bread!




Comments

  1. No one can be blamed for that...very easy to say that...but at least not the doctors...they have done their duty to the patients...remember a dialogue by a Bollywood super star playing the role of a doctor, saying on the screen, "Mein bimari ki ilaaz kar sakta hun, garibi ki nahin"...but then who should take responsibility for this quirk of fate...which sadly in India is not by chance but a regular feature...wish we had a social responsibility machinery in place...but even that doesn't come free even in the western countries...you have to pay taxes to get the benefit of that...but we cannot wish it away and get away with a "sannu ki" attitude...have no answer my self other then declaring that "God is dead"...or else how can he not react when men dies like insect...not reacting has to be sheer impotency...

    Thanks Pankaj with your most poignant piece of real life incident...hope our politicians and those on the power corridors of our state capitals and in Delhi gets to read this...hopefully it'll move them to initiate some corrective measures to arrest this social malaise before it assumes grotesque proportions...a very well worded essay on what ails our society...thank you doctor...you indeed is blessed with a humane heart...

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    1. Thanks Dada for very insightful commnets

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    2. saru article che Pankaj bhai... :)

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  2. Bhai,aap ne to humme rula diya.....
    May God bless you....

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    Replies
    1. Thanks a million Bhartendu for your kind appreciation. Much appreciated

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  3. Sunil Parikh passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Sad, life itself can be "suffering", life itself is suffering. I see the real doctor in you.

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  4. Bhuvan Chaturvedi passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Very touching yet applies to millions of our country men even after 67 years of independence. Independence from what? Who will answer, NOT THE POLITICIANS any way .

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  5. Nayana Parange passed this commnet on the blog in Facebook: So touching!

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  6. Pratosh Vashi passed this comment on the blog in Facebook:A story that touches the heart, didn't know such humane institutions still existed. Seems there is still hope for our society!

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  7. Riddhi Desai passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Wow amazing, good to know that people do care and do their fair share but forget that their is yet another hungry mouth.

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  8. Uma Manohar passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Very touching. Yes Riddhi Desai you are right. Thanks

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  9. Shruti Malvi passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Everyone.....and for that matter, everyone has his/her share of struggles and sufferings, but only some are fortunate enough to have them recognised and taken care of...Some are even more fortunate to be able to have the likes of You take care of them.
    May God help you stay the way you are.... Forever.....

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  10. Sandip Datta Roy passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: May God increase the number of the people of your kind.....Many things to learn yet in life. God bless you sir.

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  11. Shivani Sachdev Gour passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Keep Going Sir Love your posts

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  12. Chandan Baruah passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: How pathetic.

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  13. Mukta Sharma commented this on the blog in Facebook:
    There is so much misery and deprivation on this Earth that needs to be cured. One can not reach out to everyone but as Mother Teresa said, " start with the one next to you !

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  14. Madhup Thakur ‏@dremtee tweeted this on the blog: Nice story. We go through such dilemma so often

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  15. Very truly the hospital planners most of the time forget the welfare of accompanying persons.The accompanying persons are found lying here and there.

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  16. Bebu Seems Pandey commented this on the blog in Facebook:.... U r outstanding !!

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  17. Ruchi Pathak commented this on the blog in Facebook: blessed you are sir for having a beautiful combination of brain & heart!!!

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  18. Cassandra ‏@aadilakhan1 tweeted this about the blog: heart touching

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  19. Atul Munshi emailed this about the blog: Heart touching ! Thanks for sharing!

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  20. I feel, every incident in life has a potential to teach us something. This also has given a fruitful lesson. As a doctor the duty is not towards the patient only. At times, the patients' happiness and recovery is based on the happiness and smile of the people alongside with her.

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    1. Very well put agy. Thanks for your insight.

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  21. Agraj Agranayak ‏@agrajagranayak tweeted this on the blog: Yet another good reads :)

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  22. aditi pathak ‏@AditiIfraved tweeted this about the blog: Story knock on heart... keep it up writing.

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  23. Very touching incidence...which makes a doctor more Human.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Sudhirbhai for a very nice insight. Much appreciated.

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  24. Doc JG onion ‏@_defibrillator tweeted this on the blog: A daily experience we all have, but even we r bounded by limitations..

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  25. Arash Brar ‏@arashbrar tweeted this about the blog: Very touching.

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  26. VivD ‏@99AVD tweeted this on the blog: Touching

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  27. Anil Suchak commented this in Facebook on the blog: This is a reality of life in India, such story will inspire all to do their bit to help the under privileged.Thanks for sharing. Hope the government one day starts a system where the state can looks after the health of every citizens after charging taxes to everyone.

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  28. Jyoti Daswani commented this on the blog in Facebook: Very touching...well written and shows that you are a keen observer.

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    1. Jyoti further emailed these comments on the blog: Beautiful!! Well written as usual and an amazing real life story.

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  29. Asma Rizwan ‏@asmariz tweeted this on the blog: Good Story

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  30. Thank you Sir for sharing this incident...it has made me more aware to try and understand the unspoken difficulties of attendants too and not focus on the patient alone

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    1. God Bless You Charu. Thanks for your appreciation

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  31. Pankaj sir what you and your hospital had done for that lady is not less than God's work. But alas it is the fate of poor's in our country. Keep doing the good work doctor so that we can proudly say that Doctor is second god.

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    1. Thanks a million. I am much encouraged.

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  32. dubeymanisha ‏@dubeymanisha1 tweeted this on the blog: Great story doc sahab......

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  33. Dr.Damodhar.M.V ‏@DrDamodhar tweeted this on the blog: The bread for life...

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  34. Deepak Pal ‏@Deepakpal tweeted this on the blog: You are a real God doctor. This real life incident touched me.

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  35. Dr.Tahir Zaidi ‏@DrTahirZaidi tweeted this on the blog: Poignant, but i think its the hospital which should have taken care of this aspect, anyway Allah bless you and your team for being Angels of compassion

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  36. Ahimsa ‏@cjainataraj tweeted this on the blog; There's Abundance To Ameliorate Such Circumstances. Heart Is Capable Of Alleviating The Limited Systemic Thinking Represented Exceptional Story And Comments, My Brother.

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  37. Netra Chikitsak ‏@Doc_Bechara tweeted this on the blog; That's a great deed sir, I salute you for that and yeah regarding the poor man I am sure you must have done something later..:)

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  38. B-pat ‏@beenaPatre tweeted this on the blog: Nice. Touchy one tho :)

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  39. Seema Dabak has left this comment on this post "A Child’s “Thank You” [Human Story]":

    As Sant Dyaneshwar said --this is shabde vin sanvadu (To talk without words).This is very powerful sometimes.But for this you should have good heart. Dr. Desai , we have experience this quality in you. When we were in difficulty in USA with our daughter in law's treatment and asked for your advise, you replied immediately by mail and phone.We are very grateful for you for that.The world is beautiful because of such people. Thanks-- Dr. Dabaks

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  40. Dopamine Drip ‏@apoorvamagic Tweeted this on the blog: Well written sir :)

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  41. Silvio Aladjem M.D. ‏@dr_silvio tweeted this on the blog: Thanks for the link. It is most unfortunate that these things happen.

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  42. Sulky Sulkersdottir ‏@Jerk_Magnet tweeted this about the blog: Very well written. Thanks for sharing :)

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  43. ‏@garima_jain2 tweeted this about the blog: Thanks. Liked it :)

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  44. Lucky are those patients and relatives who come across sensitive souls like you,sir..!!
    yes,very true..when patient is going through physical stress his relatives are going through physical,mental n financial stress.!!..

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    1. Thanks Chitra for a very heart-touching and encouraging comment. I am obliged.

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  45. Hema Aushat ‏@HemaAushat tweeted this on the blog: Very very moving & so so true about our state of affairs. Thanks for sharing.

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  46. Ali Mirza ‏@mirzhaywire tweeted this on the blog: Humanity/compassion is what keeps the world alive

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  47. Akash Gadiya ‏@GadiyaAkash tweeted this about the blog: Touching. Beautifully narrated. Thanks for sharing.

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  48. LG ‏@Latz_G tweeted this about the blog: Very touchy... well written

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  49. Keerthi Kariappa ‏@Keerthi_AK tweeted this about the blog: Poignant! Poverty is such a curse:( But such stories remind us that there is goodness in the world despite the sad realities.

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  50. @khushboo tweeted this on the blog: Really touching, and their are so many like that. Hope some day we have a better social security system

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  51. Shanta Chari ‏@newagesong tweeted this about the blog: Very touching.

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  52. Em J ‏@pagal_pumpkin tweeted this comment on the blog: Heart touching!

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  53. renee dwarkadas ‏@ReneeDwarkadas tweeted this on the blog: Nice story......both hope in the goodness of Humankind and despair at the apathy of Mankind....come through.....Thank You...

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  54. Filmy Doctor(Dr.Pri) ‏@SatanKiNani tweeted this about the blog: Very touching and well written. While we struggle to help the patient make it, indeed the struggle of their kin goes un-noticed

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  55. Anil Kumar passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Reminds me of Woodrow Wilson's quote "In the Lord's Prayer, the first petition is for daily bread. No one can worship God or love his neighbor on an empty stomach."

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  56. Nilam Jha passed this comment on the blog in Facebook: Read it and realized that similar condition prevails in most of the hospital in our country. I have seen mothers not getting food while staying in hospital for breast feeding their sick new born.

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  57. Satvinder ‏@sdsanddunes tweeted this on the blog: Yes, I liked it very much. I wish more doctors showed the concern you did and, better still, our govt does something better.

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    1. Satvinder ‏@sdsanddunes further tweeted: The misfortune of the man wasn't your fault as you didn't know of his condition. I hope other people take inspiration from you!

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  58. Sujata ‏@Shonatwits tweeted this comment on the blog: Touched

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  59. Sorry Pakaj, I read the story late. I have seen many men desert wives even there is no fault. But there are people like this husband, go all out for his wife. This is true human relationship. This kind of people makes the beautiful and habitable for us. Salute to him. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. Not at all Dada. You are never late. Your comments are always very appropriate in content and time. Thank a million for your very thoughtful inputs.

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  60. seema mukul ‏@simashish tweeted this on the blog: Very nice story!!! Touching and makes u think,life in India is becoming tougher.i don't know when it'll change.

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  61. Ganatra Jay ‏@ganatra_jy tweeted this on the blog: :-) Thoughtful...going through your blog now...have to read all.

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  62. mdCurrent ‏@mdCurrent_ tweeted this on the blog:Nice story, and good insight about patients' families.

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  63. Confounding doll ‏@URM1 tweeted this on the blog: Very touching.

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  64. Kameswari Prasad Pappu commented this in Google Plus on the blog: Doctors did a good job ,but really can't help much for the husband.It is so touching the wife shared her food even at the time of her crisis situation

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  65. Vidisha Chatterjee ‏@vchatting tweetewd this on the blog: Wow! And every bit worth following. Thanks for sharing

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  66. Not the story v see such things quite often since ours is two countries withen one.India n Bharat.

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  67. Veer ~ veeransh.com ‏@veer_ki_kalam tweeted this on the blog: Touched me..

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  68. Not the story v see such things quite often since ours is two countries withen one.India n Bharat.

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  69. Filter Kaapi ‏@filterkaapii tweeted this on the blog: Dr. Desai a very realistic and yet touching story. Having been in Healthcare sector for long, I cud absolutely relate to this!

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  70. Varsha Agni Vadhyar ‏@varshaagnihotri tweeted this on the blog: Sad but true!

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  71. Dr.Chinmay Kulkarni ‏@doc_chinmay tweeted this on the blog: Nicely written.its unfortunate but common in government hospitals

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  72. Sanju Baba @jay7up tweeted this on the blog: Beautiful, Sir. Unfortunately that's reality

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  73. Vishal Chauhan ‏@rafiology tweeted this on the blog: भावुक

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  74. Nandini Gupta ‏@nandinizg tweeted this on the blog: A really sad story.

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  75. Sir thanks for sharing the reality of our society , it's an eye-opener for all of us.
    Can the 'food security bill' proposed by Govt solve such problems ? Hope it is implemented honestly in our country. The Hospital doctors deserve appreciation as well. Personally we in our life are helping such people, but that is inadequate.

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    1. Thanks Sanjay for very insightful comments. I am much encouraged.

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  76. Dr. Rajkumari emailed these comments on the blog: Thank you sir for sharing these stories, they gave new insight into my approach to my patients.

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  77. Susmita Mukherjee emailed these comments on the blog: as usual you are unique and so humanly . Last time I attended your lecture my eyes were wet. you asked us what have we given in return to all who did so much for us. Our parents teachers friends and all who helped so much and because of them we are what we are today. thanks for reminding us .

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  78. Samartha Ram emailed these comments on the blog: Thank you very much for your touching human stories. Your writings are inspiring, and similar to that of R.K. Narayanan’s Malgudi days. Please keep writing good blogs.

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  79. Yes, true.There are some areas in Gujarat where free food is served daily to such needy unfortunates...I donot know how they do it but there is real need for some philanthropists /NGOs to come up with chain of such free food in all lacales of India.Is it possible?

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    1. Thanks Himanshubhai for your very insightful comments. Much appreciated.

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  80. Devyani Desai emailed this comment on the blog: Very touching story sir!!!

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  81. Nayan Swadia emailed these comments on the blog: I shall surely send to you another true life story of my residency days which is as poignant as this one. However, I wish to quote a beautiful poem by celebrated and very reclusive American poet, Emily Dickinson, very much relevant to our story.

    The surgeons must be careful
    When they hold the knife (because)
    Under their fine incisions
    Lies the (true) Culprit -- Life.

    The parentheses are mine to clarify this poem. In fact,

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  82. Indeed its a touching story. That's the irony of life. Sir I still remember and recollect my residency those days how you have taught us to be compassionate. Hats off to you for following that.

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    1. Thank you Neeraja for your very insightful inputs. I am much encouraged.

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  83. Rajul Joshi ‏@rajul_joshi tweeted this on the blog: This article takes away one's sleep & touches soul.Contemplating on a model to help daily wagers under such situation. I am thinking.Thanks

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  84. Extremely moving and heart wrenching !
    Such is the reality of life. There comes a point where even the healers watch helplessly as poverty gnaws away at the life and will power of the 'have-nots', the unfortunate.
    A story narrated with deep sensitivity, acute concern and feeling and therefore echoes within long ... long after.

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    1. Thank you very much Archana for your very encouraging feedback. It has encouraged me greatly.

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  85. Thank you for your compassionate out look.sorry for my late reply.just activated twitter.looking forward for more interaction
    Dr.viswanathan

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. I am much encouraged

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