Sunita’s duty was over. She went to her staff room and then to the wash room. She had a face wash and then helped herself with a bit of touch up. Her boy- friend would be calling her in a while. They had planned to go out for some shopping and have some jolly good time together. Same was the case with Dr. Lakshman. He had promised to come home early and fetch his wife for outing, then take her to cinema which was followed by dinner. It was her birthday, an occasion for celebration. He had promised her that it would be so grand that she would remember for ever. While some of the staff were keen on leaving early, staff nurses like,Vijaya Suwarna, Premlata and a few more girls had reported for night duty. Sudeep and Srikar being room boys – a term used for errand boys or helpers, had offered to stay back for night duty in place of Pradeep and Prakash so that the two cousins could proceed on leave for their hometown. Venus Nursing Home was thus undergoing lot of incoming and outgoing people due to changes in duty hours. The standing instruction in the Nursing Home was that unless staff of second shift had not come and took charge, the staff of previous shift could not leave. Thus, daily during the shift-change there used to be a sort of confusion and commotion. Today’s change of shift was something special as it coincided with long weekend.
As for hospitals and Nursing Homes were concerned, there was no concept of week-ends, long weekends nor even Sundays and holidays. Such service-oriented jobs run round the clock and in shifts. But concept of weekends and public holidays did matter to those who wanted to spend more time with their extended family members and or whose family members were at different places like out-stations. Whatever be it, they all had to work on all days ignoring their personal needs and family demands. They had to strike a balance between their work and life. A doctor, a nurse, or room boy all were alike.
“Hello Dr., I need to talk to you before you leave. It is about your patient Raziya, on ward number 10. I find the reports and treatment administered to her don’t go well. There could be a mismatch … of some medicines or some papers in her case-history.”
Dr. Lakshman was a bit annoyed. He straight went to Dr. Rahman’s cabin and warned him in a very stern voice.
“Look Dr. Rahman! This is not something you can talk loosely on telephone. You are giving wrong signals. You deliberately try to tarnish my reputation. I have been attending to the patient and giving treatment simply based on the investigation reports received on tests conducted on her. Nothing more. Nothing less. Now I hand over the case to you. You do what deemed fit, as per your knowledge and judgement. Don’t unnecessarily blame me.”
Rahman did not give up. “What if anything went wrong? Who will take the responsibility? Don’t you know we doctors are also subject to consumer courts? Nausea vomiting, high fever, etc. can be controlled by alternative medicines. If allergy, much worse, convulsions or something much more serious than that, stupor or coma takes place, then? I am not blaming you saying that whatever you gave were totally irrelevant. But I have a strong feeling there is a mismatch of case papers. Take a look and advise me the right course of action, so that I can confidently proceed.”
Dr. Lakshman badly hurt by his taunts, reluctantly took the papers in his hand and ran a cursory glance over them. He was more upset with Dr Rahman for another reason. He wanted to leave early and take his wife out on that day. How could he deny the much-awaited birthday gift to her?
On a mere glance over the case sheets, he understood there was a surely a mismatch of cases. Some papers of some other patient got jumbled up with this patient. How such a drastic error could take place in this Nursing Home! He yelled. “Sister … Sister Sunita…”
Sunita was busy talking on phone at that time when Dr. Lakshman called her out loudly. She answered her man on the phone to wait for another ten minutes. She was asked to come urgently by the doctor. She told him that she had otherwise completed her duty for the day and was almost stepping out. This urgent call at this last minute was unforeseen and unexpected. She asked her man to wait for a while and hung the phone. She ran towards Dr. Lakshman. Unless it was emergent, he would not have called her. He already knew that she was about to leave. She too was aware that the Doctor himself was leaving in a short while. She rushed towards Dr. Lakshman. Just then she crossed Srikar and she told him to be available as Dr. Lakshman might require something. He in fact called urgently to see him. Surely, he needed something urgent.
Sunita saw both the doctors Rahman and Lakshman in a perplexed state of mood and discussing loudly about Razia’s problem and treatment meted out to her from the day she was admitted. The minute Dr. Lakshman saw Sunita, he spurted and erupted on her. “What is this?” He almost threw the papers on her face. She not knowing what was going on, could not understand the doctor’s rude behaviour. She collected the papers from the floor and was arranging them date-wise. She suddenly noticed that papers pertaining to ward number 25 was mixed up in this bundle whereas original papers of Raziya were not available there. She did not know how such an error crept in. Sunita instead of giving long explanations to the doctors, asked Srikar to bring the case sheets of ward number 25, so that errors could be set right.
Sunita was conscientious of her boyfriend waiting for her. Instead of going into the depths of how error occurred and how she was not involved in that etc., offering such excuses and delaying herself, … she preferred to apologise and set things in order and keep going. So, she simply waited for Srikar to bring case papers of ward 25. It was her guessing that papers of both ward 25 and ward 10 got interchanged. But that had to be confirmed. Srikar was on his way to ward 25. But he was stopped by Sudeep who said that there was some scuffle with the security outside. A visitor who wanted to get in was interrupted by Security man, as time for visitors was already over a while ago.
Security personnel usually did not allow anybody beyond the prescribed Visiting Hours for visitors. The intruder pushed the Security-man aside and thrust himself into the Nursing Home. The Security man then cautioned and blew his whistle and alerted all in the Nursing Home about an impending danger from that deliberate intruder. He could be a thief, could be a kidnapper, blackmailer, a killer, a psychopath, madman or all in one. Certainly not a normal individual who would behave roughly. Other Security-men positioned at various locations and in different floors of the hospital, also blew their whistles.
Srikar was curious and wanted to know about what was going on. Instead of lingering here and there and trying to gather information about the deliberate intruder, he told himself, “Duty First. All are waiting for me for these papers. Let me give them this first.” He rushed to ward number25 to fetch the case sheets. The minute he entered the ward, he was accosted by an unknown person and held him tightly. Must be that intruder. Not knowing how to react, Srikar simply screamed, “Sister…, Sudeep… Doctor… Help.” Before he could complete his screams, he was pushed to the door and his mouth was gagged with some bandages. Immediately others … doctors nurses room boys, even security men rushed there. The intruder called himself ‘Yousuf’ and belonged to an outfit banned in India. In a fraction of a second he pulled the trigger while shouting slogans of ‘Allah Ho Akbar.’ Everyone was thrown to pieces and entire area was razed to war torn area. More like a terror attack on the hospital! A gruesome attack occurred too suddenly and nobody could stop.
The Nursing Home which was spick and span till now, in a matter of not even ten seconds, was razed to shambles. Nobody was alive to tell the story either. Even though it was anybody’s guess that Yousuf caught hold of Srikar so that others would assemble at one place and Yousuf’s game plan of maximum casualty in minimum efforts could be carried out effortlessly, nobody was alive there to tell the world about the horrible account of incident. The culprit succeeded in that also. The heist was none less than a terrorist. The pitiable part of the tragedy was the family members of those slain in the bomb attack were yet to take stock of their losses.
Doctor Lakshman’s wife must be waiting for the doctor to come home and take her to dinner. A memorable gift to remember for life was promised to her. She was waiting… Wife and children of Dr. Rahman and other doctors also must be having similar stories to narrate. And must be waiting…
Sunita’s friend must be counting and still counting how many more ‘ten minutes of waiting’ should be allowed to pass. Will Sunita join him? He was waiting…
Family members of Vijaya, Swarna, Premlata and others must be waiting for them to complete their shift duty and come home safely next day morning as usual. Must be still waiting…
Pradeep and Prakash were the only lucky lot who escaped death. But what about Sudeep and Srikar who offered to stay back for night duty? What about their kith and kin? They must be eagerly waiting for the two to come home. Must be still waiting…
The friends and family of Security men must be worrying about their own security when the very Security men could not protect themselves. The family and friends were waiting… Must be still waiting...
A rogue element interfered with the destiny of all these innocent people and did not allow a minute’s time also to ponder.
They say ‘Time and Tide wait for none.’ What about destiny? What about death? Can anyone say to Destiny ‘Please Wait’? And even if said, will it pay heed?
A million-dollar question. One may have to wait endlessly to get an answer. If you have patience, then you may get it. If so, then ‘Please Wait.’