"Aarti, are you going to tell me what's going on or not ?"
"Stop being such a nag. Let's get home. See, even Chichi is getting irritated. Look forward and drive. "
"Arre, it's my birthday and this is how I'm being treated. My own wife and daughter is keeping secrets from me."
"Blackmail won't work. Now keep driving. Or else no cake also for you when we reach home."
"This is why I'm working. So that I should hear all this. "
"Haaa. Exactly. "
( Silence.. )
"I love you."
"That won't work.. that was before marriage. "
"Pleaase, Aarti.. "
"No chance, only when we get home, you will find out so no use asking me. "
"Chi Chi ?"
"Mommy told me not to tell you anything, so chup! Don't ask me "
"Fine. Then I won't be taking you for ice cream today onwards. "
"Aaaaah ! Mommy..."
"Don't listen to him. He'll.. PANKAJ !!! "
I met Aarti a month back. It's 7 months since the night she, her child and her husband were driving home on his birthday. 7 months since their bike skidded on the highway. 7 months since they fell.
I met Aarti on the day of her 3rd operation. 7 months back, when she slipped and hit her head, she lost her consciousness instantly. Which was perhaps a minor act of mercy. She did not have to see the oncoming truck which crushed her arm. Which ran over her child, killing her instantly. Now, as she awaited further repair of her mangled arm, she recounted her story to me while we awaited the surgeon. Of how, she never got to tell her husband the secret. How it fell to the doctors that night to inform him that he had lost not one child on that night, but two. How the child would have been born this week if he/ she had lived. How she would have been a great mother, Chi Chi a great sister.
7 seconds. That is all the time I am allowed to sympathise before work ethics take over and I place the ECG leads, the pulse oximeter and other gadgets and doohickeys that will monitor her progress during the operation. Her surgeons have arrived, cutting short the conversation, cutting short a life line for us both.
You see, when all is said and done, I ,and many like me, follow the "Boman Irani" policy ofMunna Bhai MBBS : we do not allow our heart to beat during work. Sure, Sanjay Dutt's policy seems so cool - but the suffering it leaves us with is incomparable.
Everyday, we see pain and suffering. There is no pleasure of a happy person stopping by for a cup of chai. People come to us when they suffer. And after awhile, you realise, you can't empathise anymore. You can't bear the tears, the pain, the suffering. Aarti and her tears are 4 hours of my life. Like many other patients, hers too, is a story I am doomed to remember. To replay in my mind's eye while seeking sleep. To her, I am a man in a mask. The unemotional man who viewed her from above as she lay awaiting her surgery. She will not remember me a month from now when she passes me by on the streets. Truth be told, perhaps neither would I.
The true pain of being a doctor, you see, is not the sudying and the mindless hours.. it's having to give up your heart. To view impassionately. Because not all of us are born that way. Not all of us can play "God" as we are "expected to". A 1000 patients later, we still are not immune to the suffering. I know I, like many before me, are left praying to be detached, to get the gift of forgetting, to numb ourselves to others pain.. then maybe, I can survive myself.
But alas, that is not meant to be. For we are all destined to carry with us, the burdens of our encounters with others. Noone can save us from this. Which is why, it is important to make the moments we share withothers special. Make them count. Because, we rub off not only our pain upon others, but our joys too. The book, THE SECRET, speaks of how willing things to yourself makes the world work towars giving you what you seek.Well, I'm doing my best willing and till now, there's no sign of Anne Hatheway on my lap or the million gold biscuits ( with rasberry jam... to each their own, hmmmph ! ), but before I chuck the book into the fireplace, I'd like to add my 2 cents in -
for a change, make someone else's day a joy today. Not your usual posse, definitely not yourself.Just someone who you know who cares/ cared about you. Take the time, take the first step and show them they've been in your thoughts. Because, you never know, your affection may be the SECRET they seek. Your care and attention ( and stalking ) maybe the memory hat'll las a lifetime, the dream they are WILLING the world to give them.
I hope along this journey called life, I have made someone's life special somewhee with memories that'll bring a smile. Actually, I know I have. I know that if I pass away tonight in my sleep, there are friends / fiends who will remember me with a sad smile and cherish the memories we had as we grew up. And that maks the lonley nights easier o endure after anoher heartless night of playin God. Because once the mask comes off and the operaion theatre lights dim, you'd be shocked what's left behind -a normal human being who can't bear to see you suffer. Who's still struggling to find the right balance between caring unconditionally fo those he calls friends, while being the heartless man behind the mask for those who suffer.
To borrow from the webslinger - this is my blessing. This is my curse. After all, these are my GODyears ( and BOY !!! I demand a refund !! )