Wednesday, September 29, 2004

A New View

I’d carried a book with me, aware that waiting to see the doctor can redefine the word "patient". We were taking my grandmother to see a retina specialist, for a haemorrhage in her left eye. Sitting in that waiting room, with about 30 odd patients, each of whom had some sort of an eye problem, I felt privileged in a way I had never really thought much about. I looked at the book I had so casually decided to read. My eyes, that I take for granted, my vision, which I had never had to do without, was suddenly a gift that all those 30 people were fighting to retain and recover. It was a sobering experience.

My grandmother sat there, silent, patient, somewhat mollified that she could at least see the world through her right eye, cataract-ridden but functional nonetheless, for the time being. There was a young man, accompanied by his father, mother, sister, uncle and newly-wed wife. All there to support him and assure him that the doc was sure things would be fine sooner than he imagined. There was an elderly Sikh gentleman, whose left leg ended at the knee, leaving only a hollow metal rod to go down till the shoes. I sat there weaving a story about how he may have been a gallant Sikh in battle. Who knows, I could be right. The sense of despair and simultaneous hope was all-pervasive. This was a doctor you came to when your own doctor decided he could do no more and perhaps it would be best if you were referred to the retina specialist. If you were here, chances were, things were pretty bad. But again, if you were here, chances were things might get better sometime soon.

When my grandmother’s name was called, my mother took her in while I waited outside, running my eyes over the posters and notices typical of a clinic.
All around the room were placards testifying to the skill of the doctor --- felicitations at some conference, awards at the national level for some expertise. They were reassuring to those accompanying the patients, as the print was too fine to be read by most of the patients I just described. It was a relief to know that my grandmother was in safe hands.

But I was touched by the plaque – it had been gifted, with "deep gratitude" by a lucky patient for whom "the short span of darkness rendered the light of sight brighter by far".
I sat there, musing over all the times I had ignored anxious pleas and stern commands to sit and read in better light, as I lay across my bed with my back to the light, nose buried in a book and lost in an imaginary world. Thankful in a way I had never felt before, I angled my book best to catch the light above me and started to read.


Anonymous said...

very nice! you describe the little things so well.. so, how did the operation go? gauri

Anonymous said...

well said AJI! glad guys like you (visionaries!) can empathise with the likes of me...and your cramps seem to be getting better...Vee Vinny Vinky!