Monthly Archives: July 2016

The Colour of Love, The Caste of Blood

The Colour of Love, The Caste of Blood© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Now I will call you Mahatma Gandhi” Tabitha said, her big blue eyes had genuine affection for me. My Indian and Canadian colleagues sharing the table with us laughed with her, albeit I sensed some jealous eyes exchanging surprise, as if saying “How come this lucky B****** gets her affection?”.

She was originally British, now a Spanish national. A tall, sweet and brilliant blonde. She carried her stethoscope just like her own self, with more oomph and aplomb than anyone else in the hospital. Men with brains melted within seconds of talking to her, men with only muscles gently stayed away, unable to bear the aesthetico- intellectual pressures. I first met her as she joined the resident’s coffee break, and while introducing ourselves, when she learnt that I was from India, her reaction was just like that of most westerners: “Oh, so you are from the great nation of Mahatma Gandhi!”. When she learnt that I was a vegetarian, she started calling me “MG”.

We became best friends, working in the same department, where she was an observer, just after completing her medical school. I was a post-doctoral fellow, but that difference hardly mattered. We enjoyed working together, teasing each other and were almost inseparable. This invited some jealous comments, from teachers as well as colleagues. But we had no barriers.

“Too bad we met late. If you were not married, I would have abducted you and always kept you in my pocket” she’d say to a palpitating me.

“So what caste are you? Upper or lower in India?” she once asked me. 

“I don’t believe in caste system. Most educated Indians don’t.” I replied, proud that my parents brought me up so.

“But we hear so many people are killed in India because of caste quarrels. Why don’t they educate people that all blood is same?” she asked. 

“There is a different blood in some who want the castes to fight. It’s Shameful.” I said. 

Once in the cafeteria I mentioned to her how some colleagues were being unnecessarily bitter and sarcastic to me recently. “Oh I have sensed that Rajas. But what I like about you most is that you don’t care what people think. Then again, that’s the only way they can express that they want to be in your place, isn’t it?” and she laughed like the morning Sun. Then she whispered: “I will compensate. Don’t say anything, Okay?”.  

Not understanding what she just said, I stared at her. 

The cafeteria was crowded, many corners of eyes were silently covering us. Tabitha held my hands across the table, and loudly, seriously said “I will do anything you want. Anytime.” There was a sudden drop in the public noise around us, some faces turned and returned, losing track of their conversations. Then Tabitha told me, again in a whisper: “Learn to enjoy them. You deserve many more jealous monkeys around you. It’s an indication of how good you are!”

I learnt this from her: Jealousy is more to be enjoyed than fought against. In my career after that, I met many types of jealous friends and colleagues. The courageous ones were directly sarcastic or bitter, the cowards always aimed from over different shoulders. From work, female friends to my Facebook posts, there have been critics of every single insignificant thing I have done. I wonder where these people keep their tongues stuck when I do the few good things (sometimes).

I remember Kahlil Gibran when I meet such rude and bitter jealous people:

 “Those who give you a serpent when you ask for a fish, may have nothing but serpents to give. It is then generosity on their part.” 

In a few months, Tabitha finished her observership, and was offered a fellowship in my department. When She got her appointment letter , she became very sad. I waited for two days then asked her: why wasn’t she speaking much?

“We will speak tonight outside hospital” she said.

We went to the huge arena meant for students, and found ourselves an isolated corner. She showed me the appointment letter. Her stipend-salary was double that of mine!

Many thoughts raced my mind. My boss and the University knew that I had two kids and Mom with me. Tabitha was single. Besides that, she was a fresh graduate, I was a trained post graduate, post doctoral fellow, with six years of additional training. Why would they pay her double?

It was wrong, but then Tabitha was dearer to me than my stipend. 

“Congratulations” I forced a smile.

“Rajas I know this is wrong. From the day I joined I received many pointers as to why I was mingling with a foreigner. They think you are below them. A white student gets double the stipend than non-white students, and many other hidden facilities. Even I don’t like that, but I need this fellowship desperately”. I reassured her that I was very happy for her. “You can question them: you can say that you have seen my appointment letter” she said.

I had gone there for research and study. Money was not important. But this injustice squeezed my pride. I went and enquired, to be bluntly told: “There are no policies for foreign students, everything is decided on case to case basis”. Upon written complaints, the University held a meeting and decided to make new rules. I did face a lot of unpleasant wrath few days after that. 

In that phase, I felt extremely ashamed of the many times my own relatives, some friends in India had spoken ill about other castes than ours. I felt how a downtrodden student coming from a discriminated-against caste in our country must feel in his/ her own motherland. We have so many discriminations: communities, states, directions and even languages! The so called Over and Under privileged communities speak and beahve with each other like enemies within one country! Some people do not even recognise our brothers and sisters from eastern states as our own!

In that one month of being discriminated against for being an Indian, the thoughts of a shameful discrimination rampant in my own country tortured me with a scorching knife! 

I remembered a verse from bible hub: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame” (Philippians 3:19).

Within a month after my complaint, the University declared new charter for foreign students. Tabitha came home and told my mother what a big victory this was. I walked her that night to her apartment. A full moon was melodiously humming all the way. “I wish I spent all my life fighting injustice with you” she said.

On the day that I left, we both got emotional. Some people just become a part of you, and then to tear away from them is a searing agony. We hugged for a long time, and then she gave me an envelope. “Open it in India” she said.

I gave her the gifts I had bought for her that day from the Chapters in London ON: a white Waterman Hemisphere fountain pen, and “The Story of My Experiments With Truth” by the real MG . She had me ‘autograph’ it, saying “My family will be so happy that an Indian gifted me this book”.

Eager upon reaching Mumbai, I opened her envelope. It had two thousand dollars, a framed picture of me with her with a caption “With MG” and a note:

“Rajas, this money is from my first income. Please spend this for the education of a girl from some underprivileged community in India. I love you, and will always do till I die”.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The Royal Medical Screw

The Royal Medical Screw© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Panicked call “Rajas, rush please, immediately”.

I was home for Bhai-dooj in Diwali. My sister was visiting from Bangalore, she visits only once a year, with her family, and justly expects me to be home when she’s here. That’s the only vacation I ever take annually. My sister was about to perform the aarti. 

Then this call.

“Rajas, my neighbour has become extremely violent after an episode of unconsciousness for a few minutes. He is reaching casualty in 5 minutes” said my senior colleague.

“Yes, Sir, I am starting” I replied as I got up, begging with gestures my angry sister to understand, “Please ask the medical CR to call me once the patient reaches casualty”.

Get the car keys. Your mind, heart and soul are already with the patient. Just as I left the door, my sister slipped some sugar in my mouth, saying one should never leave a pooja halfway. “God will understand” I replied the standard answer given by almost all doctors.
The registrar called “Sir he is 56. His vitals are stable. No fever, no neurodeficit. Just very rowdy and incoherent”

“Is he drunk? What’s his occupation?” I asked from my car.

He was a businessman, took alcohol daily over three pegs, and had not had any major illnesses till now. I ordered for an urgent MRI under sedation, instructing to monitor oxygen and be prepared for intubation. Dealing with a traffic worse than most video games, I reached casualty in few minutes.
His wife, a well known author, was all in tatters. She caught hold of my arm and begged: ‘Please save him doctor, whatever it takes.. we don’t have any relative, I will be dead if something happens to him’. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

MRI was normal. After work-up, his diagnosis was concluded to be a type of fit / seizure. He was started with a medicine for controlling fits, and improved within 24 hours, discharged in two days with advice to follow up in 7 days. He was instructed not to drive, a standard instruction for all cases with fits.
They came over only after a month.

“Doc, we wanted a second opinion. So we saw one neurologist (from their own community). But we were still not satisfied, so we went to Mumbai, my friend knows someone at that biggest hospital. We saw him there. That neurologist also told us to continue the same medicines as you advised. We had also sent all his details to the XXXX clinic in the UK, they advised us to come for check-up. So we are leaving for London next week. Till then we will continue your treatment. We thought we will just come and inform you”.

 “All the best” I told them, managing a smile just as my patience slapped my pride.
They returned only after a month. All tests redone, same diagnosis (with a lot of printed papers, receipts and a different wording), and change of medicine to another, newer, costlier anticonvulsant. The doctor who met them in London charged about fifty times more. Our own Indian doctors were all so damn cheap! 800 rupees for one opinion.. one can have at least four specialist opinions for everything! © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Can he drive to his office now?” the wife asked sweetly.

“I had advised not to drive. Is he driving?” I asked.

They looked at each other with immense pride. “Yes, doctor, but he’s a fighter, he doesn’t like to give up. He tried himself and has started driving on the next day of discharge” she was talking of her hero. “We also reduced the dose of your medicine to half, as he thinks that much dose is not necessary. When can we stop the medicine?”

“You must continue for at least one year.” I said, “What did the London specialist tell you?” 

“Oh he said lifelong, but we think he does not need that”.
At the end of patience, there can be violence or silence. 

The doctor has only one option.
“In my opinion he must take this dose for a year and not drive at all. He will risk his own life and other people’s too”. I said 

“But we read that this medicine has a side effect on the liver” asked the caretaken hero.

Strange question from a man who is drinking over 90 ml of alcohol for over 30 years!

I asked him to give up alcohol instead of the medicine. 

He smiled a smile that would put to shame best of the diplomats. 
“Tell me doctor, were all those tests necessary when I was admitted? We spent a lot.”

“Then why did you repeat all those tests in London?” I asked.

“They told us that they will only rely upon their investigations. We had no choice”.

At the end of silence there is renunciation.
I stood up. “Well, sir we did what we thought was justified in your case at that moment. Ask your wife what your condition was and how you improved. You could have chosen to go to any doctor or hospital. You chose the biggest and the one with top class facilities. I have told you my advice, you are free to follow or not to follow it. You are welcome to go to the doctor who suits you best. Excuse me, but I must see another patient now”.
“Do we have to pay again today? We just came to discuss”.
What now, after renunciation?
My sister continued to be sarcastic about me leaving that day. She had left the next day, we didn’t get much time to talk.  

“How is that patient?” she asked on cell one day.

I narrated her with anger what all had happened.

“God will understand” she replied, but not sarcastically. 
In a faithless, trustless world, thousands of doctors rush for emergencies all over India, risking their lives, without ever asking who is the patient, whether they will pay or not, whether they are good or bad. Nobody pays the doctor for even the petrol / travel in case of rushing for a non paying patient, while most paying patients count each rupee as if it was a kidney. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande.
By the way:

That patient is in the ICU now. He had a fit while driving at night, while he was under influence. 

We are doing our best. They have also sent an urgent email to London, with their credit card details.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Grandpa Nation

Grandpa Nation© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“I am not the same man I was few years ago, Doctor!” He said. “I was far more dynamic, active and daring in my youth, and continued till I was 60. Now I have limitations, one cannot defy age. I get tired and irritated quite easily, and give up sooner. I guess I am wiser, but then again, I do not attract young women anymore” winked the old gentleman with a wicked smile.

“But that doesn’t stop him from trying” said his wife, laughing.
A billionaire businessman with his wife had come for the fear of dementia / memory loss, to get a check up done for both of them. He had obvious markers of age: reduced physical and mental agility, increased tendency to philosophise and confuse logic, a reasoning based entirely upon avoidance of conflict and spirituality (while justifying “profitmaking as the basis of any business”), delayed learning, accumulation and processing od data and calculations, as well as physical limitations due to obesity, spondylosis and daytime somnolence etc., while the wife had similar plus a few additional ageing changes. They could be considered to be having “Okay for their age” health, although there was a chance for improvement.

Both of them had also developed the wise-art of the elderly, to humorously avoid inconvenient answers.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Our business is a multibillion establishment worldwide, and this kind of business needs young talents with a revolutionary, ‘out of the box’ thinking, just to survive. To thrive, we need multiplicity of young talents with inputs from the wiser old generation. So I have now handed it over to my son and nephew, I have taken a backseat.”
“I am planning to accept a Rajya Sabha ticket now. My friend is after me for a long time” he quoted a big name.
The world over, youth has the power to change things. Revolutions were rarely made by the aged. One respects the wisdom, tranquillity and conflict-avoidance of the elderly, but these things alone are insufficient to run countries full of young generation talents. The philosophy of “Adjust, Give up, Compromise and None-Of-My-Business” is causing harm beyond imagination to many nations.
Highly educated and dynamic youth are leading most successful ventures, both business and social / charity, all over the world. Ground-breaking thoughts coming from teens are changing the ways we live. There are thousands of young talents in different fields, scientists and social workers in India, who are shunned by various elderly due to either jealousy (“we didn’t get to do these things at your age, so you shouldn’t.. we couldn’t, so you can’t”), lack of understanding or will to change, or pure ego. That the next generation should suffer the same hardships that I suffered is such a stupid and selfish notion!© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Ab tak aisa hi chalte aaya hai, chalne do. Tum kaun hote ho system ko challenge karne wale? (Until now things have been run like this, let them be. Who are you to challenge the system? )” I have heard many times. 

“It is complicated, you are correct but you will make enemies, you will be destroyed” was the “wise” suggestion by 99% of the seniors in different fields. 

No one said “Go On, Fight, I am With you”.
Looking at those who run the show in different departments, irrespective of the political party or specialty they belong to, we find that mostly people beyond 60-70 years of age are running the show. Rarely do we see an elderly physically as fit as in their youth. Mentally too, they may be slower in many cases. We know that every new generation has better abilities than earlier. There are rare and honourable exceptions of course.
One definite loss in ageing is tranquil acceptance combined with linguistic substitution of action. Just like any poetry or only discussions about sex will never produce a progeny, no amount of words will ever bring a change, only action will. Action that starts from oneself, not the one of advising others. Tranquil acceptance is good for one’s personal / spiritual growth, but not to run a country or an institution expected to produce results.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I cannot forget the novel “Yayaati” by one of the best authors Mr. V. S Khandekar. The ageing king, addicted to the youth and its carnal rewards, wary of growing old, swaps his age with his youngest son, so as to remain young while his son gets old. This is exactly what I feel is happening in my country, as of now: the old in power have unending lust to run the show with umpteen limitations and compromises than to hand it over to the deserving and dynamic younger generation. Most committees are headed for decades and decades by the same slow paced elderly, who are reluctant to give up even honorary posts for the lust of limelight.
The cultural intimidation ‘to respect the elderly’ is so much taken advantage of, especially in the political, scientific and medical fields, that the concept that an elderly may be “less performing, less able, less talented or less motivated’ is yet to dawn. Most government and non-government ventures are headed by slow system-survivors whose only achievement is ducking problems away from their bosses, compromising and evading, and perpetually bending to kiss the feet above them. Whenever a young talent is elevated, the age-old presumptive allegations rain: “He / She is immature, inexperienced, hot tempered etc.”. Youth is unfairly equated with aggression and then agression with violence. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The world over, youth is running the show. All over the developed world, people in their prime, (and not their retired life), are running the best departments including judiciary. Here in India, a nation with millions of unemployed and talented youth leaving the country, we are busy extending the retirement ages especially in the areas which require the highest of dynamic efforts: from parliament to grampanchayat, from school heads to research institute chiefs, from medical to judiciary to social institutes the show must be run by the highest ability: the young talents, who may be guided (not impeded) by respective committees of wiser elderly. So many idiotic old-age barriers stop the young to even reach the top chairs which they deserve, which the country deserves. 
Then when they lose their virility, they are expected to be productive!
Their slogan: “Dheere dheere hoga. System hi aisa hai. Chalne Do.” Let it be. The system is like this. It will gradually happen.
We are not grooming free youth among the talents in our educational institutes, we are growing up batches of elderly compromising generations, not the revolutionaries but servants. 
Because slavery is easy. Revolution takes a man.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
This is a love letter for those who grasp it.

Please feel free to share unedited.

Decoding One ‘Lafda’ (Lafda = Affair)

Decoding One ‘Lafda’ (Lafda = Affair)

 © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“I have to compromise, doc. It’s a sin in our culture to have a disease”.

Shama, an engineer from a higher socio-economic and cultural background, whose community followed strict religious dictums, was a dashing lady who would otherwise make most men kneel, and was arguing about her desire to commit suicide. 

She was 27 years old, too old to marry according to the customs in her community.

“Looking at my picture, they come running (indeed, there was no exaggeration!). Talking to me, they start drooling and promising. The moment I speak of my illness, they run away.” She was straightforward in stating how most young men behave with beautiful girls.

“If I marry out of our community, they will never talk to me again, I will be outcast. I have a younger sister and her marriage will suffer if I do anything that the community does not approve of. If I marry in my own community, then I must compromise and marry someone uneducated, disabled or compromise somewhere as I don’t want to hide my disease ”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

She had suffered from epilepsy, but was completely fit now. In fact, she was smarter than many men her age.

“Having a relationship is also considered a crime in our family. There are restrictions on everything I do: a prison made by my own parents. At my age, I have dreams of love, of romance and of manly affection. Even to think of these, I am scared in front of my family”.

I talked to her semi-educated parents. Her mother was a tad bit forgiving, she said she understood the plight of her daughter, but her hands were tied by the “community”. Shama’s father said there were no other options. “She can stay unmarried at my home till I am alive, but I cannot allow her to marry out of our caste” he was firm. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

I offered them that once she likes a good boy from her community, I can counsel him and reassure that her epilepsy will not affect their married life, her child bearing etc. But most of the ‘Good Boys’ only wanted ‘Best Looking Subdued Rich Girls’ without any problems, they did not care about education, nature or even love. Most gutless quoted their parents as the reason for refusal. 

When one of them came over to discuss with his parents, the family asked many questions about her ability to have children, to have physical relations (of course they used the words ‘phyamilee liphe’) with their prince and whether I can guarantee that she will have no fits now onwards. The answers for all these questions are uncertain for anyone, no one in the world can ‘guarantee’ anything about all these questions. The same questions about their son could also have uncertain answers. But a doctor has a role of a healer here, he cannot insult the proposed match. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The family refused her,mannerlessly. In many communities, the “to be married / eligible bachelors” and their families behave worse than pigs when some girl’s family approaches them with proposals. “As a wife, they want an innocent healthy princess to show to the society , but she must turn into a porn star in their personal bed” Shama didn’t mince her words.

It was but natural that she was left with two options: hurt and sacrifice her parents or sacrifice her own life. Like most Indian daughters, she was trying to avoid hurting her parents. 

About her community she said something most men won’t dare to hear. Then she added: “Wearing a shirt-pant and speaking accented English are the only two evolutions in our community over last two centuries. Women have been refused permission to even evolve” . © Dr. Rajas Deshpande

There is a sad and severe dearth of counsellors for the higher intelligence class in India. Fortunately, I knew of a good one, who held the patient’s morale high till she decided to quit the slavery world, and married a boy she fell in love with. They are, needless to say, happily settled, again needless to say, outside India where they can just be ‘Indians’.

Shama was at least courageous and frank to voice the truth in her heart. There are many many youth: boys and especially girls who cannot utter the grief and anger caused by their socio-cultural and community-based old-age rules which keep them chained to a forced celibacy.

Cultural, religious and social norms have no answers for those with even trivial medical conditions who cannot marry, who do not want to slave-marry, and those who are shamefully ‘dropped’ after marriage once they develop some illness. 

Our society which dribbles at both ends while watching the celebrity affairs labels even the true love among two unmarried grown-ups as a “Lafda”, a term that’s almost always saturated with a hidden jealousy of its user. The word ‘relationship’ for a respectable and beautiful bond between a man and a woman is yet to be invented in the Indian law, culture, society and minds. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande. Extremely rarely we meet people who talk respectfully about two other souls who are in love, but not married.

So many women’s right forums, NGOs and platforms, but no one seems to take up the issue of “forced marriages within the community” of educated men and women who want to marry outside their community. No one seems to even recognise the physical-mental need of love among young patients who age away without ever knowing love, romance or having sex!

One of my relatives who was planning a remarriage at an age of 60, as his wife had passed away, was blasted by his own family. His answer was calm and simple; “Only those who have stayed away from their spouse for two years without touching him / her are eligible to advise me. Those who sleep with their spouse everyday must shut up, they will never know my situation”. 

He was so true! In a country with one of the highest porn-viewer numbers, there also are probably highest advisors of carnal control under various banners. The phrase “Roti, Kapda aur Makkan” (Bread, Clothes and House) , is incomplete, as love is essential for most common people, but who will take the community flak for voicing it?

The answers are complicated, and many will shut up, criticise, give religious or ideal-impractical examples, turn away or advise something they wouldn’t have ever done themselves. Anything but acceptance. Other people’s illness and suffering is nobody’s genuine concern.

THAT is the disease I am talking about.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

Please feel free to share, dedicated to the many who become suicidal as they cannot fight against their own.

A Gift For My Father

A Gift For My Father© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“I don’t want to go to my son, Doctor. I have shifted to this city to be closer to you” said the old gentleman with a twinkle of tears in his hurt eyes. 

“My son is too busy in USA. He wants to help, but medical care is very costly there”. He had rushed to India with his wife as he had developed severe pain in abdomen. On the day of arrival, diagnosed as a strangulated hernia, operated, and now discharged. He was following up for a neurological condition with me.
I wanted to blast his son, who did not accompany his old parents home in such a condition, especially when they were travelling more than 18 hours. 
Then I remembered Baba, my own father.

“A person you hurt will never forget you, even after you apologise. They may forgive rarely, but if it is not your family member, you have actually lost that person. Very rarely do you connect well again.” Baba said.
I often sat with Baba by an electric stove, sipping the 4 AM tea in the kitchen. The orange glowing warmth of that stove was pleasant, but not more precious than the heavenly feeling of that solitude with Baba. He woke me up for studying at that time.
 “If you are upset, don’t reply. Let the anger die, let better words reach your tongue” he had said.
It has always been a difficult advice to imbibe, I have had my excuses and punishments for losing temper and hurting people, telling off the high handed where they belonged. I am quite short tempered, and have often found it difficult to deal with hypocrites and reconcile with the ill-behaved, liars or high handed. Not answering or telling them off may sometimes be misinterpreted as meekness or intimidation. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
However, after years of suffering imbeciles, I have realised that it doesn’t also help me to tell people what you feel they are! One may want to say things in the most pleasant language for once, then let go. The intelligent and willing on the other side will pick up the clues. The unintelligent and unwilling will never. But it will definitely save you many a night’s peaceful sleep. The people you tell off never stop using every chance that they can to make your life and reputation sore.
I was 30 when my father passed away. I never ever wished him a “Happy Father’s Day”, but the bond I had with him was stronger than any other in my life. He denied me many things (and I never forgot that Guitar), and many a times I disagreed with him, but there never was a question mark upon his love, his authority and my attachment and respect to both of these. There never was a formal declaration of the love that existed between us, nor was there any need for it to have been spelt in languages. Like the feeling of raindrops upon one’s face, it was a glorious, silent joy!

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The sense of ‘being different from one’s parents’ was never a part of our life, and there never was a feeling of sacrificing anything for parents or obliging them. They never turned away when you were growing up, they never quoted ‘job and earning’ when you needed them, and now when they need you, you don’t need them and their problems! Today there appears to be rampant dissatisfaction about parents, allegations of wrong-parenting and over-parenting, a false sense of ‘freedom’ is imbibed upon the minds of children, who challenge everything that is against their wont, wish or convenience. At times this results in unnecessary criticism and negativity about totally legit parents.
Today, there are “Father’s Day, Mother’s Day” and many other glorified days to celebrate these relations. The meaning of these ‘special’ days is lost in ‘gilded’ pseudo-emotional greetings and gifts. A father or a mother never want anything else than to see their children happy, expecting them to spend some time together, enquire about their health, and listen to their woes. How cruel is it then, to refuse to spend time with them, quoting ‘being busy’? 
I strongly feel that a parent is not just a relation. If a wife or a husband is your ‘better half’, each parent is in fact twice yourself. One cannot think of parents as a ‘responsibility’, just as one cannot think of breathing as “work”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
I did not call this patient’s son. He was already suffering the most unpleasant wrath of all: the displeasure of his own parents.
Having lost both my parents and my perpetual feeling that I should have done far more, far better for them, I am left with a desire to find them in every such parent turned away by their children. For the worst disease that some parents suffer from is the neglect by their own children. 
My role as a doctor then extends to accommodate being a son trying to be worthy of what he received from his parents.
This will always be my small gift to my Father and my Mother whom I will never meet again.
I believe there’s no day that is not a Father’s Day and a Mother’s Day.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The Hell In Our Mind

The Hell In Our Mind
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Did you look at her ****? Asked my classmate.
We were in college. I felt blood rushing to my ears. What if my mother or father heard this? I thought.
“No, I didn’t. Why?” and there followed unnecessary volumes of gyaan.
This girl from a rich business class minority in India was one of the most meritorious in our college. She was also supposed to be very beautiful, and (now that my classmates had too much talk about it, I couldn’t ignore), also had a nice figure. There were fan clubs after her. Some were also jealous of me as she often talked to me and my friend Shafi after the college. She had a heart more beautiful than her smile!
Everything changed one day. She had a bad accident. Without helmet, she suffered many injuries to her face and had multiple fractures. She recovered well, but had a totally scarred face, a twisted arm and a limp as remaining deficit.
Like magic, all the fans disappeared. Her worth as a female in their eyes was suddenly reduced, thanks to her exterior. The attention shifted elsewhere.
Once, while walking back after college under a wet evening, she asked me “Do you think I am beautiful? Answer the truth, what you feel”.
Just as I paused for a second for the right words to say “Yes” without sounding artificial, she added : “Say no. Because I hate the word ‘beautiful’ now”.
From books to scriptures, from Hollywood to Bollywood, from cultures to parents, men and women have insisted that the only woman worthy of being a woman, the only woman worthy of living a life full of love, attention and praise is the beautiful, young woman with a great body who can bear children. Women who are not physically endowed, who cannot bear children or compensate for it by different methods, who are not earning for the family are considered equivalent of ‘useless’ in our so called civilised world. Rarely do marital ads desire “Honest, Truthful and Caring” people, we know what they all demand.
Where do others go, those who are not physically attractive? How do they accommodate to men or even women drooling over physically attractive bodies?
A lot of Zen taught me: “Everyone is beautiful but still think they are not”. 
But it did not answer why the humans evolved to love only the exterior. By no means that is any sign of intelligent evolution. A beautiful young lady gets a lift faster, a phenomenon amplified in movies, with her showing off more skin to stop traffic. Aren’t we missing the obvious?
Recently, in my OPD.
“Doctor, I am not considered to be alive. My being is useless. I have stopped eating now. Suicide is my only relief” she said, amidst unending sobs. “This world is made only for useful women, I am supposed to be useless”.
Very intelligent. Elegantly dressed, sharp in her grasp of the situation. Well behaved.
Last week she had had a blackout.
Her examination being normal, I had asked her carefully if she had any stress. The answer came out in the form of an ocean of tears as she choked, she still wanted to defend the secret that hurt her.
After a cup of water, she made up her mind. “Doctor, please never tell anyone, that I told this to you. I cannot have children. The doctors who treat for fertility are trying their best. There are issues on both sides, but my husband does not want to talk about it to his parents. They presume it is all my fault. Although my hubby is well educated, his parents are quite orthodox. It is four years since marriage, and now I have become the target in my own home. When my husband is out, I am left to bear innumerable taunts.. I tried telling my mother in law in confidence, but she declined to believe that her son had any fault. Now they want me to leave, but they cannot openly say so. Where will I go now?”
“My husband talks to me now as if I am some unwanted burden. He just snaps or shouts and prefers to stay away from me even when at home. We have a purely mechanical relationship now, where I serve as his robot. I never imagined such a loveless life”. She paused till another bout of humiliating thoughts were swallowed. “I was working when I married. I quit my job in anticipation of pregnancy. Now he says I should not join till I have at least one child. Work will increase stress, the doctor says it may affect my becoming pregnant”.
“You need to meet a counsellor together” I advised her.
“We did. My husband refused to see her again. My in laws use many bad words from different socio-religious contexts, so humiliating! My self esteem is all gone. Is a woman useless if she can’t have a child, Doctor? Do I become a lesser human if I don’t become a mother? I desperately want to have a child, I had so many dreams of motherhood, I am suffering this myself, but now I feel like an orphan with no one in the whole universe”.
I reassured her and sent her to a fertility specialist who was also an excellent counsellor herself.
With so many excellent facilities and experts now available for assisting fertility, treating infertility and aiding child bearing in every possible way, India is at the forefront in this field. Add to this the cheapest treatments compared to the developed world, and best trained doctors. Still, there are cases where couples cannot have children. All the blame is automatically placed upon the woman. Leave aside the inability to have children, the woman suffers “denial of human being” status with this fault of nature.
There are so many laws against discrimination. Yet, one of the worst open discrimination in the world is against people who are physically unattractive, especially women, more so if they cannot have children. The change has to start from within each of us. How we think, what we say and how we behave must all change to eliminate this discrimination, worse than racism, because it comes from one’s own!
Yo mama cannot be ugly, hence no other woman can be.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

The Two Faced And The Mirror

The Two Faced And The Mirror © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“I am far more than what anyone would define me to be. And my ego is not begging anyone to understand. It was my mistake, and I am over it now.” she said.
She kept her voice in control with tremendous effort. Her beautiful, extremely delicate and fair face with its sharp angles, thin sensible red lips and a quivering chin were all wet. Her curly hair was all messed up. Her large grey eyes were swollen, and one could feel the ache of her racing heart. But she refused to cry.
After a long relationship of over five years, on the brink of marriage, she had had a break up. Her boyfriend, a sensitive and handsome upcoming doctor, had come to a conclusion that she was not the kind of person he wanted to spend life with. They had grown together apart in last few months. He honestly told her so.
She could make his life hell, by fighting, showing others the many letters which he wrote to her earlier. She could have filed a police case. She could have gone to the Indian courts which have equated sex with a marriage deal. She had the social sympathy of being wronged, but she also had an eager army of young and old men willing to fight only for beautiful women, ready with buckets of mud.
But she was a differently honest woman.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“I don’t want to take advantage of being a woman. I am equal. If I was involved in him, if I had a physical with him, it was my equal wish, and my equal fault. I enjoyed it when it happened. So now I cannot say he deceived me. He has as much freedom to change as I have.” she said.
“It’s not the same for a woman” said a friend to pacify her.
“Then it’s time I make it so.. at least for myself.. I don’t want to think I was mentally weak enough to be physically taken advantage of” she replied. “I cannot imagine that he is not suffering this break up. I know he is. I will not tie my body to my wishes and hopes. I do not want my body to be a currency. I am as divine physically and mentally as any other human being. I am entitled to feel the same freedom as he does”.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Growing up in a twisted world which had umpteen layers of standards when dealing with women, she knew all the politically correct words. When a teenager girl falls in love, the parents allege of her having been “deceived in a trust trap”. As if she was never aware of such traps, as if she was never educated of how most men behave. The concept of falling in love while growing up, having a relationship which may not terminate in a marriage is all too heavy for many societies, and there are umpteen resources roped in to chain a beautiful man-woman bond into the shackles of religious, social, cultural dictats.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
There are many instances of women being abused, mistreated and in general discriminated against, but there also are many (especially in the educated and higher classes) instances of the opposite. Both are equally bad and to be raised voice against. A woman should never be touched or spoken to against her will, and a man should also be treated with the same dignity. Wrong intention is not the monopoly of men.
“I will suffer, I know. But this is not extraordinary. People meet, like and dislike each other and go their own ways. To think that one can only correctly like and love someone with the sole purpose of marrying is too hypocritical. There are singles who love better than many married ones. There are many who found their soulmates after a lot of experimentation. Marriage is definitely a holy and respectable bond, but certainly not the only seal of true love”.
She went on. She recovered, albeit with scars. So did he. They are both doing quite well now, great achievers. They have both found new love again.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The beauty of life is too big to be trapped inside the tiny cells of sociocultural prisons.
The words “I Love You” are used less to express true love than to express mortal desires, to blackmail someone into doing something that they do not want to, to take advantage of the emotional dependence and respect of the one who has affection for the other. This “blackmail by beloved” becomes a deadly game of unhappy endings in many cases, as the chains of these three beautiful words wear out by overuse. “You will do this if you truly love me” is an ultimate indication of a desperado taking advantage, on either side, who hasn’t the guts to ask for what they want and respect the other person’s choice to decline.
There are also the two faced. I know of a lady who turned into a sweet talking angel and continually talked about her ‘being a good girl always’, grabbing the attention of people around her every which way possible, to have them praise her. If they didn’t, she would cry to describe the umpteen unfair things happening to her, most of them imaginary. If not praise, she would try and get sympathy. But the real deal was when she turned into an altogether different person when with her husband. She’d throw tantrums, shout, break glasses and even assault her husband. She would not only attack him with forks / knives, but simultaneously shouted “Someone please save me, he is beating me, please don’t hit me” etc. The neighbours always looked upon the poor guy as if he was some kind of a villain, as she always was so sweet with them! After years of this hell, when he spoke about it to our common lawyer friend, he was advised “Whatever you do, do not hit her.. the whole world will blindly turn against you immediately. No one wants to know or understand the truth in a man-woman quarrel. Men are presumed and declared guilty already”.
“What’s my option? She attacks me, hits me, tortures me and no one ever believes when I say this.. not even my own relatives.. because she is an entirely different person with them” my helplessly torn friend asked.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Leave that house” was the option the lawyer suggested.
We need better understanding, better interaction and better counsellors / resources while dealing with the most delicate of all relationships: the man-woman relationship. We need a less critical and judgmental society, we need better laws and open discussions.
The newer generations appear far more mature about acceptance of ‘break-ups’. There also are some excellent counsellors working in this field now. However the tendency to emphatically keep on repeating that every marriage is a happy ending in itself, that one’s spouse is the most ultimate best thing to have happened to oneself etc. is not necessary. It is like shouting “I am not a thief” in the street when no one has blamed you to be one. If you have a good husband or wife, you are lucky and deserve it. If not, one must have the courage to sort things out without pretending.
I am proud of the woman in first case, she is my student. I am also proud of the man in second case, who survived ending that relation.
The judgmental mudslingers in both cases are having a hard time dealing with their own lives for a change. Some spend an entire life time away from the beauty of reality. Others win the game of life.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

“Get Out, Doctor! You Are Finished!”

“Get Out, Doctor! You Are Finished!”© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
“Doctor, it’s this way or highway. We have many from your specialty in the waiting list. Do you accept to go by our policies or do you want to resign? Mind well, if you disagree, we will see to it that your name is blacklisted in every hospital in this city”.
As Dr. Sumeet stood there thinking, one of the administrative doctors, always a first class bottom licker, commented “These days doctors are like W*****, throw money at them and you get them to do anything you want”.
One junior doctor, still hot blooded, walked away. Dr. Sumeet asked that medical superintendent to mind his language. There was no reply. The bosses had really enjoyed the comparison, and while eating their pistachios at the hands of their secretaries, laughed aloud.
Dr. Sumeet felt devastated in that super luxury office, among the administrative officers and his own senior doctors from that hospital. He had returned from Germany a year ago, and joined this corporate hospital that was recruiting specialists. They had also offered him a decent salary, and accepted his condition that no patient will be sent back from his OPD for lack of money. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
However, he had had to face a lot of jealousy and hatred from his senior doctors as he was looked upon as a competition. This is extremely common in India, and however stifled, a major truth. But no one ever stood against the bosses of corporate hospitals, so they had to accept his appointment.
The same corporate also owned other industries, namely Gold, Cement, Cloth, Petroleum etc. They were a “closed” community, all in the administration belonged to a particular caste. This hospital was another of their ‘profit oriented investment’, and did really well as most of the public can easily be fooled by the words “Free, Concession, Accreditation, World Class etc”. Medical illiterates (read general public) are really taken for a ride by healthcare advertisements of corporate hospitals.
Few months after Dr. Sumeet joined the hospital, the CEO changed, and another “extremely loyal invertebrate profitmaker insider” came in as the new CEO. From prehistoric period, he was considered as the best pet of that corporate family. The new CEO started by applying all the labour and profit criteria of cement industry to this hospital. If anyone argued, his famous dialogue was “If Sirjee (the owner of the corporate) wants, he will make the sun rise from the west. You are not aware that his reach is beyond the highest in India”. Anyone who uttered a word against any policy was isolated, humiliated and finally thrown off. Various allegations and ‘proofs’were easily furnished by a dedicated ‘execution panel’.
The new CEO changed the conditions that were accepted when Dr. Sumeet had joined. He was now given a target that his patients have to increase by 25 percent every six months, so should his tests, surgical referrals, etc. Free cases were cancelled. Many doctors spoke in private about this, but no one wanted to lose their job, as it is very difficult to get attachments in multispecialty hospitals. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
As Dr. Sumeet had argued, he was given this ultimatum. He appealed to the senior doctors in that room, most of them looked away. Some told him they had always warned him not to be ‘over-smart’.
“I will reply in three days” said Dr. Sumeet and left the room.
He had nowhere to go. He had shifted his family to this new city and his children were already adjusted in their school. He had chosen this city after long deliberation, and had recently bought a flat with a loan, so he needed a stable income. His parents were teachers, he did not have the kind of money required to make his own hospital. All his friends had one answer: “Adjust “. He decided to plead once more to the management, to allow him to provide free consultation to really poor patients, and to continue a contract not based upon income generation. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Next morning, as he entered the hospital, one of the servants (being from the inner caste, his title was ‘General Manager’) came to see him with a huge grin upon his face. “The CEO sahab has asked you to empty your belongings by afternoon. This office is given to another doctor”.

He went to the CEO, who refused to see him.

The same medical superintendent came out.

“Doc we do not require your services any more. Get out, You are finished” he said.

“Why?” asked Dr. Sumeet. “I want an explanation”.

“We have many reasons. You do not fall in line with our policies. You are insubordinate. Also, some staff say you are having an affair with another doctor in the hospital. We also had a complaint about you yesterday from a patient”. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The complaint was obviously custom-made, and there was no way to argue about the affair allegation. Medical staff working together in an extremely orthodox country has to face those allegations very commonly. How such allegations disqualified him as a doctor was beyond him.
There was no argument now. He was escorted by security team out of the hospital, in full view of many specialist doctors (his friends), patients (treated by him), and others, but no one had a word to say. After he came out of the campus, one doctor friend accompanied him home silently.
He wrote to many senior doctors. There were no replies. He wrote to the medical councils. There was no reply. One senior member of the medical council told him in confidence: “ All the Medical Council rules are only for doctors. Medical councils in India have zero control over private hospitals, especially corporate hospitals”. IMA and other doctor’s bodies are clueless and directionless about the open exploitation, humiliation and destruction of doctor’s careers, especially new-coming specialists. In a country devoid of specialists, it is paradoxical that so many specialists are continually fired / thrown off / made to leave corporate hospitals which take advantage of the competition among doctors. Sadly, the doctor community, with too many self-proclaimed geniuses, has failed to unite and protect itself from this corporate onslaught. It is pathetic to see some greedy doctors competing to see each other down. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
His practice was super-specialised and required a multispecialty set up with inpatients. There are very few government set ups in India like those. The rules, conditions in most govt. hospitals are idiotic, age-old, and the payments are laughably low. Also, the govt institutes are mostly headed by you know whos.There are indeed some charity super-specialty set ups, but most are religion / cult / faith based.
Dr. Sumeet decided to work it out his way. The corporate hospital which fired him made sure that his name was defamed in every possible way, they left a many pronged negative feedback everywhere. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande. There is no remuneration for the career murders of the intellectuals in every field in India, caused by two-faced systems run by invisible hands.
Gradually, he picked up, losing years of his career. He found out a hospital that respected his wishes to treat the poor free, and did not insist on numbers.
The complete ignorant and irresponsible stance of senior doctors when someone wrongs the junior doctors, the complete lack of any control over the policies of corporate hospitals by any medical council or governments, and the impotent stance by many a doctor’s organisations has spread the healthcare-toxic corporate medical culture all over India.
Doctors should at least make directories and online lists (maybe anonymous to begin with) of hospitals which force doctors to accept malpractices, or do not respect terms of agreement and sack doctors without any mistake. These should also be reported to the medical councils. Any hospital sacking any doctor should have to send an explanation to the Govt., medical council and IMA for the reason of dismissal, and the doctor should also be able to explain his / her side of the story. Hospitals which “use and throw” doctors as per wish, without reason or logical explanation must be brought to the book. © Dr. Rajas Deshpande
Most corporates have excellent backup and protection from the government, and all they will do is to shift the blame on the doctors’ fees, hiding from the patient, media and society the umpteen other profiting headings that the patient thinks are benefit to the doctors. This is a tough war.
Another joke is that while the educational qualification and training of any doctor is strictly scrutinised by medical councils and media, the qualifications of those who own hospitals, run them are completely neglected. No wonder illiterate politicians, “Business Class” corporate houses and CEOs bully doctors into practicing policies which are often against the best practice principles of healthcare.
Very few non-medical CEOs actually have a good knowledge of medical ethics and principles, agree to logical arguments.© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
The media and society who advise umpteen things and expect a lot from the doctors never stand up for a good doctor. Everyone who has met one bad doctor cries all his / her life about all doctors. As if there were no bad apples in their field! The ‘hyper idealistic’ population expects that the entire healthcare comes under the heading of ‘charity practices’., unwilling to spend upon their own health. If malpractices and backdoor incomes are to go, the public should realise that the actual fees will increase.
Governments will always make populist, ultra-short term policies in healthcare, without involving the brainy specialists in practice. If the Medical Council or IMA do not take a firm stand, any doctor who takes a stand against existing corporates / medical malpractices will be orphaned by his / her own community, often boycott, and categorically defamed: until their career is destroyed or they leave the country.
Many Dr. Sumeets are actually suffering this right now in India, with no respite.
Doctors must also realise that this war will never be won fighting alone. If the subsequent generations are to get better quality healthcare, we should start by identifying the problems first.
An easier, nay, wiser option for every super-specialist is to leave India.

© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
PS: The “Chamcha Doctors” who line up with the corporates to compromise in healthcare principles must do some soul searching. Earning profits is not a crime, compromising medical principles is. A real “Doctor” will never do so.
Dedicated to the thousands of young medical specialists who are right now suffering this hell.

RD