The Beacon Of Good Doctors
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
At 3 AM one night, the patient in the ICU called me. “I am very worried about my kids” he said.
He was a chemistry lecturer at a government college, a job quite prestigious, but underpaid like every govt. job except the ministers. They didn’t yet have their own home, and he was the only breadwinner in the family. They did not have the political and power resources to afford a heart transplant outside India that could have saved him.
He had multiple medical problems, and was one of the most complicated cases I had seen. Along with other medical problems like high sugars and blood pressure, he also had a dilated heart that was failing by the day. My teachers had explained him and his family about a bad outcome, and reassured that we are trying our best to change it. I was in the last year of my residency, doing M.D. Medicine at Govt. Medical College Aurangabad.
I sat besides him and held his hand. Due to his heart condition, he could not lie down at all, his breathing would worsen. Tears flew from the eyes of that brave soul, who had accepted his own fate, but was only feeling bad about the future of his wife and three kids. I tried to reassure that learned man, far above me in age, experience and wisdom. This is often a difficult task a doctor must stand up to.
“I understand fate, but I cannot accept the suffering of my family” he replied.
His son, Abhay was studying in the second year of MBBS. Clearly aware about his father’s condition, Abhay stood up to the responsibility bravely, and kept smiling in front of his father, while attending him all the time after college and in the nights. The medicines required were costly (of course not available at the govt hospital), but we found a kind hearted pharmacist who would give these to us at the company rates.
There are two types of death, sudden and slow, and both kill some part of those who love the dying person. But to witness a beloved father slowly succumb over weeks is a horrible punishment, and Abhay and his family endured it, God knows how!
After a few weeks, fully conscious and aware till the last day, surrounded by his loved ones, Mr. Suresh Pohekar left this world. The family stared into a darkness that had no respite. Abhay’s mother, Mrs. Ratnaprabha, took charge bravely. She joined as a lab assistant in the same college, and sailed through the difficult times, coping with the educational expenses of their kids.
I had completed MD by then, and had joined Abhay’s college as a lecturer. One rainy morning, on the way to the hospital, my scooter slipped as someone ran across the road. I could not get up, I had torn a ligament. A stroke of luck, one of the best orthopedic surgeons in Aurangabad, Dr. Jagannath Kaginalkar was riding on another scooter behind me. He picked me up and plastered my leg at this hospital. I informed the authorities that I won’t be able to work on that day, for which the hospital cut my salary. This was ridiculous, and I quit that hospital.
I started teaching medicine as private tuitions. This would help me prepare for my DM entrance exams too. Abhay joined that class, we stayed in touch. I had a special affection for him given what he had endured. Nothing bonds like shared pain.
Most doctors come from poor families in India, and passing MBBS at the age after 22, face this universal dilemma: whether to start earning by going into practice or pursue postgraduation / superspecialty. It is a difficult decision. (The answer, for those who face this dilemma, is only one: get the highest degree possible). He passed MBBS with excellent marks, and got admission in MD Medicine. Working hard there too, he passed his MD exams from a rural medical college. By then, he had fallen in love with his college-mate Dr. Jayashree, a pathologist, who gelled with his thoughts perfectly. He started his practice in a rented small single room in a remote area in Aurangabad.
They never returned a patient for lack of money. Never asked twice for fees, and extended all help to the poor patients vising them.
“I believe I won’t ever grow any poor by helping those who cannot afford. Nothing I want can be at the cost of insensitivity to others. Everyone goes through pain and suffering, and to ignore it when others need help is inhuman. Fortunately, God has provided me with all that I want, and money has never been our driving principle” Abhay says. It is difficult to do this especially in these days where the tendency to take advantage has become rampant among both doctors and patients, but Abhay and Jayashree, guided by their mother Mrs Ratnaprabha, have continued extending to the society what it lacks the most: love and healthcare. Guidance by Mr. Agashe, a well-known spiritual soul highly renowned for his godliness, helped Abhay overcome many a turmoils in his life.
Dr. Abhay Pohekar now has his own home and a Hospital in Aurangabad, and continues the holy medical tradition of silently extending humanity to those who need it. In an era of fake prizes and medals for faker people, we hardly get to know the real beacons of good in our society. So many hundred doctors coming from humble backgrounds in India want to do so much good, only limited by the society’s attitude towards them, and the atrocious regulations and laws being made without involving the ground-level medical practitioners out there.
Abhay, I know that your father, Mr. Suresh Pohekar, looks upon you and your mom proudly from heaven. You must feel very proud too, that you have converted your father’s tears of agony in those of joy!
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande
PS: Thank you, Dr. Abhay Pohekar, for the permission to write your true story.
Please share unedited.