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.

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