The Curse of Real Heroes
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Two boys, 15 and 18, wheeled in their mom, a spinal case who can’t walk. They had lost their father guarding the Indian Border. They care for their mom in turns.
Both want to join the army asap.
“How much do we pay?” ask the elder, proud son after the consult.
“I should pay you with my blood, son!” I wanted to say.
But I didn’t want to weaken in front of those bravehearts.
“It is my pleasant duty, dear, you don’t have to pay” I told him.
“But this is a private hospital.. we can pay. We paid elsewhere we went. We want the best care for our mom”.
“That I promise, and this is in honor of what your Father did for all of us”. This made them smile proudly, albeit with a wet twinkle in all eight eyes.
“I was a Black Cat Commando, Sir. I served as a bodyguard to PM Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Sir” said this huge, intimidating gentleman, now a sufferer of Parkinsonism. What an irony, that the one known for speed, strength and accuracy is forced to a life of the opposite! He guarded our PM once! He has to go to apply for some medical concession today.
“I loved this beautiful girl” said the 75 year old Punjabi gentleman pointing at his 72 year old wife, “but her father said I was a nobody, so he didn’t allow us to marry. Then I won an enemy tank, sent him my picture with it. Then he agreed. I fought three wars for India, Sir. But I still cannot dare to fight her, Sir.” You cannot compete Punjabi humor. He is also applying since last one year to get an accommodation with elevator facility, as he is on third floor, and has to be lifted up by wife and an assistant as he can’t climb.
He has roamed some hospitals, in search of relief from a recent illness. Admitted at many places, lost a lot of money in this process. He feels it is “abuse of the system” to claim any concession, as the military hospitals provide adequate healthcare. Naturally, not all patients can be happy with a “fixed” doctor. They do not have a choice, and if they go to a private hospital, they must pay.
Young stroke at 32, from Pimpri-Chinchwad. Fighting terrorists in Jammu Kashmir this moment. After recovery from stroke, joined back in anti terror squad in Assam within four months.
It is a huge, sticking-out red shame that the very people who endanger their lives for their country without a second thought, who stand in the line of genuine fire, have to live a life of “requesting, begging and applying” for favors for basic living: accommodation, transport, food, medicines and even healthcare of choice, while blatant corruption by many erodes the nation’s treasuries.
We live happily at the cost of their risking lives, complacent with garlanding their memorials twice a year.
Even the policemen hurt, injured on duty, and those who suffer heart attacks, strokes and other health problems due to an excessively stressful life who have to stand in line to get memos and recommendation favors from clerical staff to get healthcare concessions. Whatever their level of corruption, it is pathetic to see traffic police at most polluted junctions standing for entire day, literally “giving away” their life.
All healthcare at ANY center of their choice must be made free for those in the Indian Military, and policemen who are injured while on duty. Most doctors and private hospitals will agree with this, if the other affording “free” class is brought to the account book : the rich and affording litany of various political leaders, their whole personal staff, ministers and their staff, influential rich, and many undeserving govt. officials who take immense advantage of the system for self, family and relatives. These number in millions.
There will be some among the military, police who may try to take advantage, who may ill-behave, but that can be dealt with if a common healthfile is maintained for each one, for the doctors to remark so, and deny further care in that case.
In honor generations of soldiers who have taken upon themselves to protect a country which will deny them even the basic care in the hour of their own need. I know most doctors ensure best care for these Heroes, but we must make it officially so.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande