Two worlds apart


Vikram Das and Jinny Thomas are two worlds apart. They have never met each other. And yet they are connected to each other.
This was first published in Tamarind Rice's
September issue in my column "An Appletini
A Day..." Click the picture to read the entire
 magazine online for free.
Jinny Thomas is seven years old. She lives in an quaint little village within God's own country. She is the last to wake up in her house and goes to school reluctantly, tagging along with her elder sister. The kaccha roads that lead up to her school are forever muddy, worse now with the advent of the recent monsoons. She hates what they do to her shoes but her family is grateful because the rains nourish their crops. The best part of school undoubtedly is the return home where her pet dog Tommy waits at the doorstep, rushing to greet her when she arrives. Though she does not understand the language, she enjoys the cartoons on television. She is seven years old and has her whole life ahead of her.
Vikram Das is sixty six years old. Hailing from the Pink city, he is the fourth generation of his family to deal with the trade of cloth and cloth material. He is a widower, having lost his beloved fifteen years ago in a road traffic accident. He lives alone at the old ancestral house, aided by a servant who comes by every morning and does the cleaning. His daughter is studying in the national capital and he worries for her everyday till he receives her call. His elder son has taken over the family business and helps him now at the store. He indulges in an occasional meetha paan after lunch and dinner. He is turning blind and the doctors tell him that they cannot do much for him. He worries about his fate but does not confide in his daughter because he knows how much she cares for him. He is sixty six years old and life is coming to an end for him.
Vikram travels alone from Rajasthan to Kerala with failing vision and in need of a corneal transplant. He is dignified in his replies and calm as the risks and possible failure of the surgery is explained to him. He waits patiently, alone in the darkness within his room till he gets the news from the hospital that a cornea has been procured for him. He undergoes the procedure that evening. The coming morning, the bandages around his eyes are removed and Vikram Das can see beyond his hands once more. His tears reveal the words that he cannot voice. He has been given a new life. Vikram Das can see again.
Jinny Thomas will never see another day. Jinny is there in the operation theater with Vikram Das, the surgeon and myself. She will never know why her sister is so enamoured when Hrithik Roshan and Prithviraj appear on the television screen. She will never learn the difference between a GAP and a United Colours of Benetton shirt. She will never know the taste of a cappachino or Maggi noodles. She is seven years old and will remain seven forever. Killed in a landslide the previous day, she is just an unknown face, buried once more as an inconsequential footnote in a corner of the local newspaper. It is her seven year young corneas that now give light to a sixty six year old cloth merchant in a city no one in her family has ever been to. Vikram Das and Jinny Thomas are two worlds apart. They have never met each other. And yet they are connected to each other. Forever.


Authors note: Since a few people have asked, I will clarify: This is based on a true story.

62 Comments

  1. Makes me wonder where my friend's four organ transplant receivers are--what their life stories are and will they feel her presence...

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    1. It is something we dont think about...dont really care about sadly. But those people too had a life and aspirations.
      During MBBS days, we used to each have to buy a bone set, consisting of the major bones, to study the ridges and notches et al... there was never really any fear of ghosts or ghouls about it but much later, it did strike me that this was a human being like me once who had lived, loved, had dreams and perhaps lost in life.

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    2. Roshan, In our Chinmaya Bio lab there is a set of Spine/Rib Bones and a Skull. This was part of my Famous/Infamous Bio 12 Standard project. They started their final stages somewhere near Davengere, journeyed in a Dental students bag to Kannur, in another bag to Chala, sat on the teachers table for a few minutes then made its way to the lab. To date, we are remembered every time those bones are shown to the students by the lab attendants. Hopefully they inspired a few to take up Medicine...

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    3. im sure they did, Vijay. And I really wasnt aware of this.. kudos man!

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  2. It is good to hear such news and you write it in such a way that we get a lump in the throat..

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  3. Well written..
    I dont understand how to convince ppl who think it is crime to donate organs of dead as they cant attain moksha

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    1. You cannot change the mindsets steeped in such beliefs. And that is sad.. because you can make a huge difference to somebody's life even after death.

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  4. Good one..a really touchin story...

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    1. Thanks Laila... for better or worse, a true story too.

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  5. Roshan...this is really touching..I'm wondering if it's something you really witnessed. Such a bittersweet moment.

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    1. It is definitely a true story. Just the names are changed. It is just a slice of everyday life which I witness and wanted to share.

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  6. Life is so strange that it is s hard to understand how we get connected to each other. Very nice story, wonderfully written. Again the writer over takes the Doctor :)

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    1. That was what I hoped to show with this. We really have no idea of how we actually connect to so many people and how our lives are still destined to touch someone's life.

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  7. Beautifully narrated. Two souls connected via the gift of sight!

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    1. Thanks Alka.. yes. No one really considers where the cornea comes from or what the backstory is behind it. Just wanted to showcase that for a change, rather than discuss the medical aspects behind it.

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  8. My heart breaks every time I hear of a child dying, especially from an avoidable situation. I feel miserable reading about Jinny. I wonder how you felt being in the same OT, Roshan. Life is a miracle, yet not a miracle depending on which side of the scene one is on.

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    1. I just mentioned that to a person a few moments ago.. how you choose to feel about the incident depends on what you take away from it.. you can choose to feel the loss of the girl or you can choose to be happy for the 'renewed' lease in life for the old man.
      Honestly, I don't know what I am allowed to feel as the doctor even after a decade in the field... should I be clinical and accept death as just a part of everyday life or allow myself to empathise and feel the pain of loss that a family suffers...

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  9. Well written!
    Had to rerun the whole post to find out what happened to Jinny... Truly a true life heroine!

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    1. These kind of incidents never reach the public's eye, Danny. Everyone needs to read about what film stars eat and which shampoo they wear. Nobody cares for the people who do something for others even when going through a tragedy.

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  10. Thank god at least one of them got Happy ending.

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    1. It is indeed a silver lining for one person atleast... we need to see that and appreciate it.

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  11. This is so touching Roshan and I felt mixed emotions as you narrated this....Can't imagine how you must have felp dealing with this real life account! Feel sorry for the little girl but also grateful that even in the end she helped bring a smile upon someone's face!

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    1. I really dont know what to feel at times. Am i allowed to feel pain for a young life lost or do i feel happy for the man who can see again? Do I feel guilty for feeling happy?

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  12. This was an amazing story. I love how they are connected. So sad that the little girl dies, but so beautiful the gift her tragic death brings to another. Lovely.

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    1. That was part of what I wanted to showcase... he has never seen this girl and does not know anything about her. Yet she has changed his life forever... how many people are we similarly connected to?

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  13. I am pro organ donation. I think its a great way to make someone else's life simpler and fulfilled. This is a nice story Roshan. Though I am sad that poor Jinny had to lose her life int he landslide. But on the other hand Vikram got a life.

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    1. I wish more people were pro-donation. As someone mentioned in a comment above, people just talk of not attaining moksha etc etc by doing so... how can saving someone else's life ever be a bad thing?

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  14. Oh God, Roshan, this was chilling, touching and sad and happy at the same time. The way you opened up the unpredictable ending.. kudos!

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    1. Thanks, I guess. I wanted to present a slice of life which I witnessed in a way that would make people think twice.

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  15. Touching.. More such stories should come out for people to come out of the stigma of organ donation. . Well written..

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    1. Thanks Rohan.. and I totally agree. I really dont understand the fear against organ donation... so many lives can get a second chance.

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  16. Read it already at Tamarind Rice and lovvved it. It is true that our lives are touched and healed sometimes by people we dont even know !

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    1. Thanks Anita... happy to see you as well in Tamarind Rice :D

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  17. Touching and I get a happy feeling that in the long run after I leave my body...I will continue to dream through someone else... :)

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    1. If only more people were okay with the idea of organ donation after passing away...

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  18. A very touching story Roshan. Our lives touch so many others and we are hardly aware of the fact.

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    1. Thanks Amit. That really was the point of the post... people dont realise how much of a difference they make in other's lives... in so many minute ways.

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  19. What a heart-warming story this is. But we are all connected though we may not seem to be. Vikram and Jinny must share a soul bond and an intertwined fate. How beautiful.

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    1. That is just it. In their entire lives, they never knew of each others existence. Yet, now one's life is changed forever by the death of the other even though it occured thousands of kilometres away

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  20. A very touching story. There is grief, and hope. Beautiful story.. thanks for sharing this.

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    1. As always, it is not a story that newspapers care about... I thought the least I could do was this.

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  21. What a wonderful story. They say a child brings happiness to everybody, and here's a child who brought a big amount of happiness to a stranger after her death. Life's strange.

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    1. Life really is strange.. there is beauty to be found everywhere if you look hard enough.

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  22. This post has been selected for the Spicy Saturday Picks this week. Thank You for an amazing post! Cheers! Keep Blogging :)

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  23. Lovely. Donating organs is a good thing.

    PhenoMenon
    http://throodalookingglass.com/2013/10/raindrops-2/

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  24. Lovely. Donating organs is a good thing.

    PhenoMenon
    http://throodalookingglass.com/2013/10/raindrops-2/

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  25. Very touching and well narrated.

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  27. Thank you for sharing this story...

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  28. Beautiful story Roshan....u write really well.

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    1. Thanks.. this one was from the heart and that showed, I guess.

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  29. Lovely... Had a lump in my throat as I read this one.. Beautifully written.

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  30. Good writers makes us think about stuff, that we don't otherwise care about. And you score there big time in my book.

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    1. That is honestly one of the best compliments I've received all year. Thank you so much for that.

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