01 July 2016

Story for Rajesh

                                                  I was the consultant physician (Medicine) for the Psychiatric ward of our hospital, where I worked before retirement for 3 decades. The senior consultant and in charge of that 25 bedded Psychiatric ward was as thin as a marathon runner from Ethiopia, would never get angry, smiling, calm and composed. He liked me very much because without delay I used to attend to his referral cases.
                                                                   Once I was called to see a jaundice case. The patient was also thin like our psychiatric doctor aged 20 years or so. I saw him loitering in the locked corridor of the ward, when doctor ‘PK’ introduced me to that jaundice patient. He was a hepatitis B +ve case with jaundice. The patient was asked to go to his bed. His name was Gangadhar, a ‘poly drug’ addict and the hepatitis was a result of taking intravenous drugs. I examined him and noticed that his liver was enlarged and had some amount of fluid in his abdomen. He proudly said he had travelled all over India and Nepal.
“How could you travel so much? From where you got the money” I asked curiously.
“WT, doctor babu”
“Were you at any time kept in the lockup rooms for the offence? Where you get your food?”
“Yes, at times. But they released us when our condition became pitiable. We used to go to temples or Gurudware and got free food.”Gangadhar replied.
“Why, we? You have a friend or what?”
“Yes, my friend Ramu used to give me company. He could speak Telugu and English and I could Odiya and Bengali. We are both matric failed. Have you seen the underneath of a railway sleeper coach?”Gangadhar asked this funny question to me.
“Yes, our house was very near to the railway station at Balasore.”
“Then you can visualize how we travelled without ticket. We would occupy the place near the battery compartment and travel from one place to another during night time without knowing where we were heading to.”Gangadhar replied while eating one banana from his bedside cabinet.
“What drugs you take, tell me frankly. I am not going to tell anyone. It would help me to write medicines for you.”
“Do you know doctor what is the ultimate drug for a drug addict?”
“Morphine, LSD?”
“No doctor you are wrong, its snake venom. Do you know another thing?”
“No. Tell me that would help me in my profession and story writing.”
“Then you must write a story on me but I will charge you twenty rupees for that”
“I said patients usually pay doctors but here is a reverse situation, OK done here is your money.”
“Drug trafficking and drug addiction are end roads, no reverse turn” Gangadhar looked at my wrist watch as if he had some appointment.
“You mentioned something about snake venom?”
“Yes, you are right. I don’t remember exactly where that place was, may be at Delhi or Jaipur. No drug was enough for us. We have tried from alcohol, cocaine ,heroin, LSD,DTM, marijuana, to brown sugar to flying angel to IV morphine .When another drug addict suggested ‘why not try the deadly Jahar?”
                                                                         “We deposited rupees twenty each and were given two tokens and told us to go to a small house nearby. We were asked to introduce our hand only once inside an opening like railway ticket counter .There was a hissing sound and the venom was injected by the cobra. Both of us came out and lied down under a baniyan tree, it was a month of December, still then we were sweating. We saw ‘seven heavens’ and lapsed in to a deep sleep. We don’t know when we regained our consciousness, may be two hours. There was froth at the corner of our mouth. Felt hungry. Doctor Babu there are still good people in our country to help. The visitors in that park had left some of their unconsumed food near us, presuming we were dead persons. No one dared to wake us up. That was a first and last deadly experience.”Gangadhar narrated his autobiography as if he waiting to speak to someone about his life.
The food trolley had just entered the ward when we put a full stop to our discussions. I prescribed medicine for his hepatitis B and jaundice problem and left the psychiatric ward with life time knowledge on different drugs from a young drug addict, and his travel tales without tickets.
PS: This story is dedicated to Gangadhar and his friend, Ramu. My thanks are due to our doctor ‘PK’ of the Psychiatric ward, without whom this story could never been written by me. I am aging, running out of time, hence whatever life time experience I had is being written down for my readers. These are rare and true stories without any denting or paintings. Unfortunately our news papers do not publish such stories from unknown writers.
Sanjoy Kumar Satpathy.

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