Sunday, 26 March 2017

My Wanderings - 51. Short Story No. 33. Benefit of Doubt

              My father while serving as a country Doctor had various experiences in remote areas of Kashmir  and that too a very  long ago when specialisation in the field was unknown in city  Hospitals also. Doctor with whatever little knowledge had to be ready to deal with any exigency which ever may  arise  in the area. Those days pathological and diagnostic tests were not available and even if available in a rudimentary   form and  were sparsely in vouge  even in city Hospitals . The disease had to be diagnosed on  its symptoms only . The Doctor had to rack his brains and use his intelligence in order to track the disease . This  exercise however used to sharpen  the  faculties of Doctor towards  better diagnosis. The only silver lining  in this  occupation was that it was purely professional and was not commercial  like these days. The Doctor would get satisfaction from his profession by correct diagnosis and treatment of the patient rather than deriving pecuniary benefits out of it. Moreover, Doctor had to be all-rounder those days. He had to be a physician, surgeon, Gynocologist, child specialist and bone specialist all in one as he had to deal any type of patient any time.  
Once  a gujjar woman bleeding profusely from  her head    was brought in to  the Hospital by few persons.  When my father with the help of his attendant looked into the wound, the case appeared prima facie  hopeless​. The sclap and skull bone  were broken into  two pieces and brain was protruding out of it . The two hair plaits of woman had spread apart making a way for  internal mass  . It  later on transpired that woman in  question had gone for collecting fuel wood from Jungle and some male  gujjar had caught hold of her to satisfy his biological need.  The woman had managed to frisk away from his grip  and ran away. But the  Gujjar had chased her frantically and in a fit of rage hurled  his axe on her sclap and left her wounded and bleeding.  Then few good persons after hearing  her frantic calls had brought her to hospital.
My father  and whatever little staff available with him  had no other option but to attend the exigency. They simply tried to stuff the portion of  brain  hanging outside back into her head after cutting some mass of flesh. Then they manually arranged to join the two pieces of   her skull bone, which were spread apart. After few stitches on his sclap she was discharged as there was no indoor facility available  in the Hospital. After few days she recovered to the surprise of one and all. Mostly villagers bitten by bears or leapords in the jungle  were usual cases attended by my  father in the Hospital. Whole of the village would assemble outside the Hospital gates , whenever there was such type of operation going on inside.
After  duty  hours  at the Hospital , my father would attend patients who were bed ridden in far flung areas on horseback or Tonga as per schedule. This was also a part of the duty of my father as no other Doctor was available in the whole area. My father never charged anyone for extra services provided by him as the patients were mostly poor peasants living around. The medicine was also available to them free of cost from Govt. Hospital.
One day my father received a call  to attend an emergency case  in another village about 5 Kms away from the village where Hospital was located.     In the mean time a person was stabbed by another  in  the abdomen and victim was brought to Hospital for treatment. As my father had already left for another village, assistant present in the Hospital attended to  the patient and after stitching his wound discharged him. But patient died in the way  while going to his  home.
Then after apprehending the culprit by police a murder  case was lodged against him in the District court. After many hearings which were attended by my father and his colleagues also, the judge gave decision in favour of culprit by giving  benefit of doubt to him. The Judge opined that victim was treated  at the Hospital by an attendant only as House Doctor was absent from duty. Had the victim  been attended by a qualified Doctor, he might  have survived and therefore culprit can not be punished for murder charges. The culprit was  however, charged for attempt to murder only, which subsequently lessened the punishment of culprit substantially. Moreover, Doctor was held  responsible for  neglect of duty  despite of his pleadings that he was liable to attend the patients of surrounding area also. Taking cognizance  of the circumstances  on account of  exigency  of service which kept my father out of Hospital  at the material time and viewing the case leniently, increment of my father was stopped for two  years only.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

My Wanderings - 50 Short Story No. 32. Brothers Karihaloo

The present story revolves  round  my memory lane reflecting  back the early years of Nineteen sixty , when I was a little child and my father was transferred to small hemlet of Khrew , nineteen Kms away  from Srinagar city as In- charge of allopathic dispensary. Actually my father was the first incumbent of Allopathic Dispensary which was earlier an  Ayurvedic one. It was a beautiful village of springs and brooks spread all over the area. The small brooks flowed in the compounds and even through the ground  floors of inhabitants. The water of springs  was relatively warm in winter season as  white cloud like  vapours hovering over the streams were most conspicuous  in cold climate . The nature had bestowed the village with all natural resources which were sufficient to live a  luxurious life for all living beings around  but man's greed had devised ways  to divide it unequally so as to marginalise few.                   The Dispensary was located in a nice two storey building , the upper storey of which was Doctors residence ,where we lived. Adjacent  to Dispensary  compound there was a big chunk of land in the shape of farm  along with a  three storey house constructed beyond the other end of it belonging to one sh. Prakash Ram Karihaloo and on its opposite   periphery, which was just besides  hospital building, there was a kucha one room hutment surrounded by a small piece of land just enough for kitchen garden. The inhabitant of the hutment was Raghav Ram Karihaloo who was  younger brother  of  Prakash Ram. Although both the brothers were having  amazing   similarity in their physical  appearances but were  miraculously apart as per their temperanment was concerned. Prakash Ram was  introvert type of person and appeared to be most cunning while as Raghav Ram was extrovert and an honest person. Both the brothers were at daggers  drawn , living in their seperate houses and no body had seen them talking or meeting ever. Prakash Ram had married once but his wife  died much earlier with out delivering a baby while as Raghav Ram was a chronic bachelor. After the death of their parents Prakash Ram had taken no pains to marry or settle his younger sibling .                                                                       Actually they had some dispute over the ancestral land, major chunk of  which Prakash Ram had usurped while Raghav Ram was young boy and had confined the later to a  small portion of it on the periphery. The land case was lying pending in the High court at  Srinagar which would come up for hearing after a lapse of six months or a year and was always  postponed for next dates.
Prakash Ram was like a selfish giant and never allowed anyone  to trespass his fortress. He would watch from the window of  top floor  of his house and  shriek like a wild cat whenever children tried to enter his orchard for fun. He would become mad and hurl all the lofty abuses on the children who even by chance happen to cross over  his orchard. Once I entered his garden for plucking  flowers. He sprang like a leopard from somewhere , caught hold of  me and started beating me voilently.    Luckily my father came out from Dispensary and gave him a bit of mind.
Raghav Ram on the other hand was a very social person. He used to visit us occasionally for a courtesy call. He played with us sometimes and used to take care of all the children living near by.
Once during our stay Prakash Ram fell seriously ill. There was no body to look after him. My father was the only Doctor available  in the whole area. Therefore, he attended him and even advised  his younger Brother Raghav Ram to look after him. Raghav Ram most meticulously followed the instructions of my father and helped his brother in the time of distress. Prakash Ram was pleased to see his brother Raghav Ram serving him day and night.  One day he confided to Raghav Ram  that he wanted to  leave  all this hatred and dispute and live a peaceful life henceforth , to which his younger brother most readily agreed. They even agreed to compromise mutually and abandon court case .
But only after Prakash Ram regained his health fully, he began to show his true colours and started behaving cunningly again. They  started living  in their seperate houses and left talking to each other once more.
In the mean time my father was transferred from the village  and we left the place for good.
It was after a long time, when I was a little grown up ,  I had a chance to visit the same village  again in connection with paying obiscance   to Mata Jwala Devi,  whose temple was located on a hillock thereat. It was a yearly Mela of Ashad chaturdashi. After paying my obiscance at  Mata,s shrine,  I thought of paying a visit to my old abode where I had spent few years of my childhood.
The hospital was shifted to some spacious building and some one had purchased it's old building . The hutment of Raghav Ram was in dilapidated condition and closed. I then ventured to peep through the orchard of Prakash Ram. There was hustle and bustle both  in the building and orchard. The people from far off places who had visited the shrine were preparing meals and resting all over the place. I could also see Raghav Ram helping the visitors most sincerely.
It took Raghav Ram a long time to recognise me because I was grown up now. Replying to my enquiry regarding Prakash Ram he said, "Prakash Ram  passed away few years back.
Actually when court decided the case in my favour, my brother felt very desperate and aghast and died the same night due to heart attack. Now being the lone surviving hear of  whole property  l am looking after it
After my death it will go to shrine board as per my registered will."
He further told me that men may come and men may  go but properties remain to dispute the relations for ever. I feel very sorry for my brother who guarded this property throughout his life and never compromised to part with inch of it and left the whole within a wink of eye.