Gitanjali Diwakar is a journalist with The Hindu Businessline. In her words, she is 'a Jack of many trades and a master of a few'. She enjoys reading a wide range of books, including fiction and philosophy. Her greatest passions, however, are culture and performing arts.

Gitanjali Diwakar

Amused of being human

Gitanjali Diwakar | Updated on October 01, 2021

File photo   -  ISTOCK.COM

Community is more than just a mere word, it defines our existence

As a child, the proverb “practice what you preached” had been deeply engrained during out moral science classes. Needless to say, I grew believing that to be the ideal way of life. However, it was not long before adulthood had struck me, and the term ‘grey areas’ had become part of my vocabulary. 

Human behaviour has always amused me. We are said to be the ‘superior species’. But yet, we act and respond in manners that often the put the animal world to shame. We speak of compassion and kindness, but we actions imply otherwise. We promote and fight for the alleviation of poverty, but many of us refuse to help our domestic help with their finance’s or the children’s education.  

A firm believer of Karma (or inner the sense of duty and responsibility), I never truly believed that the real meaning of human was ‘community’. My elders have often said that good Karma, is always rewarded. But it wasn’t until the recent past that I had become a firm believer of their apparently wise view of the world.  

It was a bright sunny day on September 17, 2021. As a friend of mine and I were returning home from a jog on the beach, I had noticed a text message from a new colleague. It read: Can you come by after 10 am? As always I had responded – yes.  

I had entered my aunt’s residence at 9 am only to receive a call from my colleague’s landlady at 9.15 am. She sounded extremely worried and wanted me to rush her to a hospital. I had agreed to do so and had spoken to my colleague about the same. Praying hard, I had sought the help of my superiors and had set the ball rolling in terms of medical care expenses.  

“Could you drink some ORS? That might put the fatigue at ease,” I asked my colleague. She had obliged and soon we were at the emergency section of the hospital.  

What followed next was a roller-coaster like none other.  

Flashback. This colleague and I had known each other for less than two weeks. Yet, we clicked and had spoken a lot.  

Fast forward to September 17, 2021, 11 am. The nurse tells me that my colleague has a pulse rate of 130 (that is high!) and a body temperature of 103. The authorities decide to administer IV drips. I helped her with the registration and soon she was parked in the isolated section of the emergency room. “Attender of ____”.  I had walked up to the nurse who had given me a list of medicines and had asked me to pay for a whole range of tests. I ran as fast as I could to do the billing section, transferred the money (thank god for internet banking and UPI!) and had submitted the receipts to the nurse.  

All these days, I had taken pride in hailing from a family of doctors. But reality had proven otherwise. 

It was not long before the doctor in-charge told me that my colleague had low platelets and that there was bleeding too. He wanted to do a CT scan to rule out any serious issues and a few other tests to narrow down on the best strategy for treatment. “What on earth was that girl up to,” I thought to myself.  

September 27, 2021. After a platelet transfusion, and five days of IV fluids and numerous medicines, my colleague is all set for breakfast and is thrilled being home with her parents. Two days before her departure, she handed me a note that read “To the saviour of my life”. Moved beyond words, I knew that it was her strength and determination to feel better than saw her this far.  

It was during her time at the hospital that I had discovered how sick she truly was. She has, in fact, been lying on the floor due to fatigue and had not eaten for three days!  

What truly shook me was that her landlady stayed for four minutes from the hospital and also owned a car. Yet, she did not consider taking her to the hospital. Instead, she had waited for me to drive seven kilometres during peak-traffic hours to do so. The reasons, as one of my relatives stated, could be ‘the lack of willingness to 'baby-sit' someone she barely knows’. No offence, but aren’t NGOs build on the principle of helping those whom we do not know? More importantly, the landlady is a resident of the city and would have had plenty of people to help her in this time of need.  

But I was lucky. For help had come my way in several ways: 

Another friend (who is also a doctor) had come to my rescue by requesting a close friend of hers, who resided close by, to take over for two hours at night till my friend underwent the platelet transfusion procedure. The gentleman, many years my senior, was a blessing indeed. He kept me informed and assured my friend, the doctors and nurses that he would be around for any support.  

We had made arrangements for home nurses to take care of her for the duration of her admission at the hospital. The nurses were amazing. 

My family, though 700 km away, assured me that I was doing the right thing when I had doubted myself at each step of the care. With other associates making statements that implied ‘shouldering an unnecessary burden’, they reminded me that helping her at that point in time was the best decision ever. My father, who is also a doctor, had even reached out to his contemporaries in my current city for some additional support. 

Our team leaders (at the office) were incredible in their own way. Both of them had pitched in at the right moment and had helped with coordinating with the office regarding health insurance covers, post-discharge care, etc. My friend’s manager, in particular, even ensured that members of his team helped my friend in the days that followed.  

My friend from my hometown, my jogging partner, and a biker friend were supportive in their way; assuring me of a helping hand as and when I needed it (even if it meant ensuring that I did not starve or have glucose levels amid the chaos). 

My new friend (yes she is no longer the colleague who fell sick) is an independent and understanding woman. In this short span of time, I had found out that she is a self-made working professional and is one of the strongest women I have ever known. She possesses the greatest ability of all, patience. She was perhaps among the few who could handle my temperament and was still able to empathise with me when I felt alone. Moreover, she is adaptable and was able to help herself too in whatever way she could. For that, I am incredibly grateful.  

A mere thanks wouldn’t suffice when it comes to the doctors and nurses who had watched out for my colleague at the hospital. They kept her alive and assured us that they will send her home healthy. Their tireless efforts are priceless and I shall never forget their service. My respect for the medical fraternity has multiplied. I was amazed by the way in which one of the doctors had taken the time to put me at ease and had helped me cope with the situation. Dealing with pain is no child’s play. But to do so empathetically and kindly is challenging. Despite the pandemic, they continue to work long hours and put us before themselves. Indeed, my friend was truly lucky to have them at our beck and call.  

Indeed, the universe is kind when it has to be. Today, as I look back the most worrisome official days off (yes, I was on a break), I have come to realise that there is nothing wrong with being human.  There are many similar stories worldwide (some even worse). But what makes some of them special is the human touch that we are beginning to disregard. We need more of it for us to reclaim our spot as the superior race on the planet. 

Published on October 01, 2021

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