Priyanka came to know that her friend’s husband was admitted into Yashodha hospital for dialysis. Since the hospital was near her home at a walkable distance, she thought of visiting her. She bought some fruits and went to see her. At the hospital at every point she had to enquire and go further. She had to enquire and find out the floor number, room number, visitors’ timings, any do’s and don’ts’... She had to enquire where was the lift and get there. She came out of lift and looked for the room where her friend’s husband was admitted. There was no room number. Nor the patient’s name on the door. She learnt that not all patients require room for whole day. For routine quarterly check-up a few hours of stay as in-patient was sufficient. Any vacant room would be given to the patient.
Priyanka’s friend’s husband had come for Peritoneal Dialysis. He was doing it himself routinely at home. Occasionally, he needed to have check up at the hospital. A nurse was passing by. Priyanka asked for the specific room where she was required to go. The nurse simply waved her hand towards a door. Priyanka went in as directed. No that was not the room. Neither her friend nor her husband was seen there. Some total strangers, ---- may be a mother and her daughter --were there. Daughter was the patient and mother, a care-giving attendant. Priyanka realized that she came into a wrong room. When she was about to go back, the elderly lady called her and told rather warned her that a dialysis patient should not be given any fruit. Priyanka was aware of that. She politely replied the old lady that the fruits were meant for person taking care of the patient and not for the patient. Fruits were meant for her friend. “The dialysis patient is anyway being taken care of by the hospital, whereas, the attending caregiver is left to fend for oneself.” Of course, a food court and a canteen were available in the hospital.
She came out and found her friend walking towards the room. She hurriedly went and caught up with her. After an update of ‘what is what’ and ‘how do you do’ a little more time on exchange of pleasantries, Priyanka thought it better to leave. Hospital was not a coffee shop where anybody would like to sit and chat for longer duration. Moreover, her friend also had to wind up and leave. Priyanka chose to visit her friend at the hospital for two reasons … to enquire about her husband’s present health condition and another reason was that it was easy for her to see them here rather than at their residence, which was quite far from her place.
Priyanka took leave from them and left. When she came out, she accidentally turned towards the wrong door into which she entered first Elderly woman on seeing her, called her in. Then she said, she had one more patient in the same hospital, but in another wing. He was not related to her. He was their neighbour. Presently he was undergoing treatment and the response was poor. He needed blood transfusion. Stock of bottle of his blood group was not available in the hospital readily. They had already placed an indent to local blood bank and supply thereof was awaited. She said, “It is painful to see him groaning in pain. Reason for calling you is … if you know anybody who can donate blood, it will be very nice. He and his mother will be ever thankful to that kind soul.”
Priyanka said, “Why anybody aunty? Even I can donate blood. I belong to the universal category of blood, which normally is acceptable to any one in need of. Moreover, blood donation is a very noble act. I will be happy if I can be of any use to your neighbour. Let the doctor decide if my blood is suitable to the patient. First let us go and see the patient. I hope your daughter is comfortable now. How long has she to be here?”
The two ladies were talking and walking towards the ‘blood-thirsty’ patient. The patient was asleep with his face towards the wall. In a low hush-hush voice aunty was telling Priyanka about his sickness, his parents’ agony, costly treatment, his self-pity and so on. Every now and then he would say, ‘what sin did I commit? Whose curse is on me?’ Aunty sympathised him, “More than his sickness, his self-pity and depression were worst killers. No medicine can cure such patients. I wish and pray that he is able to overcome his depression. Sooner the better.”
Even though aunty was talking a in low voice, in decibels not more than a whisper, it was enough for the patient, Shukla to turn around in the bed. Priyanka missed a beat for a second. ‘This man! The Least I expected to see him in the hospital’. Aunty introduced Priyanka as a prospective blood donor, thinking that it would cheer him up and boost his confidence. Priyanka nudged aunty, “Let us go. He may be tired.” When they came out of his room, aunty made wry faces at Priyanka and said sarcastically, “Earlier you were making tall sermons on blood donation and was offering to give blood. You were posing as though you were a goody-goody soul. When time for action came, you simply backed out as if nothing happened. You funked. Funny people!” She continued and was murmuring to herself ‘cheap stunts for popularity’ and something more like that. Priyanka bade good bye and left in whiz.
Next day, Priyanka bought a few varieties of fruits and came to Yashodha hospital. She straight went to see Shukla and spoke to him soothingly. She came out along with the nurse and had latest updates on his health condition. Later, she told the nurse that she was keen on donating blood even if did not suit this patient. It could be useful for some other needy patient. Nurse was looking at Priyanka, as though something unusual happened. It was a common practice among nurses to offer blood to patients in times of emergency but not any normal human being coming forward to do so. She took Priyanka to the Blood bank unit in the same hospital and came back. Priyanka finished giving blood. She then came to see aunty. When she gave the bag of fruits to aunty, she taunted.
“Why? You think that fruits are better than blood in helping the patient to have a speedy recovery? And you don’t have to be afraid of pricking your skin. Is it not?” Priyanka was cool.
“Aunty fruits are not for Shukla. The hospital takes care of its patients. I brought them for you. By the way, I am coming from Blood bank counter only after donating one unit of blood. Yesterday, I did not want to give blood for a different reason. I was in bad mood. If the body does not cooperate, it is difficult to get the proper vein.”
Aunty saw that there was a small plaster in her elbow joint. Still not believing her, aunty asked, “Yesterday you were in good spirits when you were talking with me here in this room. But later when I took you to see Shukla, you turned pale and you funked. Mood change! Why bad mood then?”
“It is a long story, aunty. If you are not getting bored, I can tell you. This Shukla is your neighbour now. For me, he was a long-last friend. For him, I am a long-lost foe. Many years ago, we were living in Pune in the same colony and we both went to same school. He was very jealous of his classmate Sudheer. Sudheer would come first in the class and Shukla’s parents used to get angry for Shukla not taking interest in studies. Sudheer was studious and Shukla was not. His parents always compared him with Sudheer and criticised him. So, Shukla thought of a crooked plan to steal some of Sudheer’s note-books just before exams and in the absence of important notes, he would not be able to study and who knows! Might fail also. Instead of keeping the stolen books with him, Shukla asked me to help him by keeping them with me. Even if anybody suspected Shukla, they could get nothing from him and he would escape punishment. Up to this his plan was okay.”
Priyanka kept telling further. In my younger days I was a timid girl. I never ventured to do any mischief nor play any adventure. When I declined to cooperate, he got angry and beat me. I became his enemy. He was afraid that his hideous scheme would be exposed now to all. He gave me two more blows for that. In that scuffle I fell down and broke my leg. I could not write exams. My parents were quite upset. They warned me, no-no threatened me. They strictly told me not to have any contact with him. I got well but one year of schooling gone. Later we got drifted apart and we never met again until yesterday.”
“When I saw him yesterday, though I was reminded of that bad incident, I felt very sorry for this fellow and was full of sympathy. I went home and offered sincere prayers. I was worried that he should not believe that it was my curses which are the reasons for his sickness. He was already in self-pity and because of me it will shoot up. That was why I was in a hurry to go. Today I went to see him just to assure him that I was not here for any revenge or retaliation. I wanted him to understand that I was not his foe. Whether I am his friend or not, he may decide. Certainly, I am not his foe.”
“One good news aunty. In the Blood bank-counter they said they are getting his requirement and may be by now they received also.”
Aunty said convincingly, “Now I understand why he was in tears and was repeatedly telling, ‘I was so stupid. I shouldn’t have been so rude.’ I am happy Priyanka that he is getting his unit of blood. He will get well soon. I am happier still that his mental sickness also will be cured. When he will be discharged, he will be a fresh and a new guy.”
Aunty was sure, very soon he would be fit physically and mentally. Certainly.