Sab Theek Ho Jayega !

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Kochi / Ernakulam, Kerala, India
A Doctor who loves to Live, Love and Laugh with the World! Absolutely crazy about Cricket ! Other Qualifications: A Tired Bathroom Singer, Retired Gully Cricketer and Satire Writer !

Friday, May 27, 2011

Good Doctor and Bad Doctor: It's a Doc's Life !

Apology: This is an extremely long post because it is a true incident I was witness to. I could not have edited the dialogue simply because it was continually connected and editing out any part would have rendered the story incoherent.
We hear and read a lot about medical malpractice and the greedy behavior of Doctors and about the degeneration of the noble profession. But what do Doctors think ? I believe nobody ever has tried to find out. Doctors it seems are there to be condemned.
I would like to thank all those who would show the patience to read through the post because it deals with my profession. It says something about how do Doctors feel about people !

Me and my wife, after suffering a lousy movie through a night show, decided to compensate for that with a late night dinner. Thus we went to a nice restaurant that has been our haunt for most of our late night dinners ever since we got married. We made ourselves cozy in a corner of the dimly lit place playing old Kishore Kumar songs. We settled down ordering some hot and sour soup, masala papads, vegetable noodles and baby corn Manchurian.

As we were waiting for our food to be served, I could overhear two people conversing from our neighboring seat. As much as I tried to avoid, I couldn't escape the exchange. That was because the conversation dealt with Diagnosis, practice, malpractice, MCI, Consumer Protection and Doctors. The men turned out to be Doctors. From the entire story, I could make out one was a Physician and the second one was a Pediatrician.

The Pediatrician was the first one to talk about Medical ethics and malpractice. Let us call him the Good Doctor or simply GD. The Physician was more vocal about the plight of Doctors, Hospitals and why it was wrong about what was wrong. Let us call him the Bad Doctor or BD. Simply because he doesn't conform to the ideals a Doctor is supposed to follow in his noble profession of the healer.

They were switching between English, Malayalam and a little bit of Hindi as frequently as our Politicians switch loyalties. Let me stick to complete English narration of the whole story to avoid the hassle of translating for the Malayalam uninitiated. So here goes the dialogue...

GD: Whatever you say, we should keep the profession and practice above all corruption. What else will be the difference between Doctors and the Government workers and Politicians if  Doctors accept cuts and commissions ? The MCI has brought in stringent norms and then there is the Consumer Protection Act. The system needs a thorough revamp.

BD: MCI and norms, that is a joke. Some of those idiots are behind the bars for corruption. And who is controlling the affairs now ? The Politicians and Babus. Those shameless guys who sell the country for a song. Nothing will change  by your Gandhigiri !

GD: No, I don't agree. Someone somewhere has to make a beginning. If one Doctor starts not accepting any favor from Medical Companies or Scan Centers or Labs, this will permeate into the entire community slowly. I never encouraged it and never will.

BD: What do you think ? All Doctors are corrupt from the beginning ? Congenital corrupts ? You are wrong little brother. Most of them don't fall for these allurements so easily. The companies will come to you only if you have a decent practice. You will refuse favors from Companies initially, most of them do so too. But if you don't accept those favors, someone else will. You are the only one to lose out on it. Gradually the whole system gets corrupted. Nobody does it deliberately. Corruption is like love in Karan Johar movies. You don't do it, it just happens.

GD: That is why there is a trust deficit among patients and common man. You justify everything without being honest. How much money does one need to live ? Why should we mortgage our conscience to greed ?

BD: My dear friend, you live in a different world. Let me tell you a story. There was this Physician in a local hospital. He was a JIPMER Pondichery product. He was extremely dedicated. Every morning, he was at his hospital by 7:15 AM. Always smiling, he helped thousands of patients. Only demand he made of Medical companies was to supply costly medicines free of cost for poor patients. He never took any cuts. He never allowed the hospital management to hike his consultation fees in 15 years. And he worked till 8:30 PM every week day.

Even at odd hours, he was always available. So much so, he had practically neglected his family. And then one day, he developed Cerebral Hemorrhage. After surgery and rehabilitation, he is now just a shadow of his old self. He can't remember medicines or anything about practice. Just 8 months since, all his clients have moved over and see other Doctors. Only that family he always neglected is now taking care of him. He is income-less at 56 years of age. Now imagine you or me in that position. What will our families do ?

GD: You can't change destiny. That is unfortunate. He must have made a living. His family should look after him. You can't expect patients to take care of him. And IMA schemes are there to help people like him.

BD: My story isn't over Dear. They manage to survive, fine. But what will happen to him and his wife if they live up to 75 and beyond ? Today, he is only 57. Without income, how long can a family survive. He struggled for almost 15 years and was settling down with a house. Now both his daughters are ready for marriage. Elder one is 26 and younger one 25. What will happen to them ? I say he was foolish. Not a single soul he had helped will help him today. They have completely forgotten him and moved on. That is cruel !

GD: But that is life. Time and tide wait for none. You have to accept that.

BD: You are in such hurry. I still am coming to the point. I saw an article on a newspaper. They had written about the plight of an olden days Cinema actress who was struggling to make ends meet. Soon, some producer comes in and offers her a role in a movie. When a writer or a poet or an artist is living in difficult conditions, all the visual and print media goes to town demanding better deal for them. I know so many old Doctors who are struggling today. Have you ever seen any media person reporting the difficulties of a retired and struggling Doctor ?

Part one of our dinner was there before us. The piping hot soup and Masala papad. We began the attack in all earnest. But my ears were all ears for what was going on behind us.

GD: That is why we have IMA and they have so many schemes like the professional protection scheme and retirement schemes and all. Why should a Doctor beg in old age ?

BD: That exactly is my point. A Doctor or family should never beg. You and me too will be old some day. We don't know what is in store for us. IMA and all schemes will support you to a certain extent, not all your life. My question is, "Why is charity a one-way traffic when it comes to Doctors ?"

GD: What do you mean ? What charity ?

BD: Look, most of the Politicians amass wealth enough to support 16 generations. Their children succeed them in Politics. No qualifications necessary. The businessman's kin inherit their legacy. No qualifications demanded. If a Government employee if meets with premature death, someone from his  family will get a Government job and all the benefits associated. An Engineer starts earning by 22 or 23 and settles down well by 28. 

Whereas, we spend the longest learning life and shortest earning life. 5 and a half years graduation. 3 years post-graduation and another 3 years of specialization. Many years in between are spent in preparing for and writing Entrance examinations. By the time we are finished, we are already 32 or even older. It will require at least 10 years to build up a practice. That means you are into middle age. That is where we are today.

If you develop some problem like what happened to that poor Physician, you are doomed. Just 10 - 15 years of earning period. And what do most of the Doctors get paid ? It is peanuts compared to what the Engineers and Management people get paid. Do you know my 27 year old cousin earns more than me and I am almost 20 years older.

GD: Are you jealous of your cousin or do you hold some grouse ? Why do we have to compare ourselves to other professions ? Why can't we be happy with our life ?

BD: Well, I am not jealous, just a little bitter. I have spent years in the Intensive Care and Emergency Rooms attending calls during day and at night. I don't have a count of the number of people who have survived serious illnesses. I have done my duty to the best of my abilities and with utmost sincerity. Most of the Doctors do that.

See, people come to you with illnesses, cough, vomiting, body odor and what not. So many patients have vomited in my cabin. On some occasions,  the stinking mouths breathe out on your face and you have to take it all on your chin or even nose in the name of duty.

People spend 150 rupees a day on cigarettes. They have no qualms paying same amount for a ticket to a movie in a multiplex. At the end of the day, many people drink to the brim and never even remember how much they spent. You have a small problem with your shoe while you walk on the road. You get it repaired by a cobbler sitting by the footpath. He charges 100 rupees for a 15 minutes job. People have no complaints. But when a Doctor's consultation fees is 150 rupees, that becomes fleecing.

A chap with some management degree from a private institute earns three times of what you and I earn. There is no value for your lost sleep. Your personal time is not your time. It is your burden to help people because that is a Doctor's bounden duty. Do people ever remember the Doctor ? Far from it. They remember only when things go wrong.

Almost always, when a seriously ill patient survives, it is God's grace. But when a patient dies in spite of all our efforts and good intentions what do we get ? The relatives will blame us, sometimes beat us up and even burn down the hospital. Do you have any idea how many Doctors have suffered ? And don't forget the Consumer Protection Act. This Act has acted against the profession and also lead to the breach of trust. 

People blame Doctors for the trust deficit. But nobody blames those who framed this one-sided act. If a Doctor is blamed of corruption or malpractice, he is suspended or transferred even without a proper trial. He or she is branded corrupt and will lose all the goodwill and often a chunk of hard-earned practice. When the truth comes out and the Doctor is proved innocent, it is too late. 

Though I still love the feeling of seeing people recover and go home happy, I wouldn't want either of my children taking up this profession. You spend sleepless night for the sake of a patient on ventilator and another with a heart attack. Then come home to rest for the next night and you have a neighbor who wakes you up at 2 AM asking for a headache medicine. If you sound annoyed, be prepared to listen to pearls of wisdom on how you should be nice to people. And if you don't have the required tablet, then face a lecture on the duties of a Doctor and how you should be ready for emergencies all the time and be generous with help.

Our Dinner had arrived. The crispy noodles and the Manchurian were more than enough to compensate for the spoiled mood. By this time, even my wife had stopped talking and joined me in spying in on our neighbors. Our dinner and their banter went on.

GD: Well, I do agree with this. I too have been woken up several times by people wanting to know what to do with a crying baby. They often do everything except feeding the baby. But that is occupational hazard. A Scientist faces chemical hazards. A manual laborer will have to sweat to earn his bread. An Advocate will have tremendous stress and so do the business and banking sector people. With us, it is this. I have learned to live with this.

BD: You asked me if I was jealous. I said I was bitter. Do you know why ? It is because the people who accuse Doctors of malpractice, unethical behavior and greed are these same Laborers, Advocates, Scientists, Bankers and Businessmen. People who don't know what is an infection and what is an infarction will sit on judgement on your profession. 

A family of a patient accused me of unnecessarily ventilating their father. They said, he came with some mild Asthma and I had ventilated him to make money. Bloody that man was in heart failure and was in Cardiogenic shock. I told them to take him to whichever place they would like and gave them the ECGs, X-Rays and other reports and asked them to take a second opinion, third opinion and any number of opinions. 

They came back the same evening and wanted us to continue treatment on same lines. Once the patient was out of danger, I discharged him and asked his people to take him to a place where they don't ventilate people to make money. When they said, they had no problem, I still asked them to take him because I was hurt by the unfair allegations and would not like to be part of treating their father any further. I told them that I kept him till he was fit to be shifted only on humanitarian grounds. They didn't even apologize and were bitter that I had not understood their feelings. But who cares for what a Doctor feels ?

GD: But, you could have been more magnanimous. Their consent to continue treatment was the admittance of their guilt. Tense and grieving relatives can behave thus. You should have left it there. You were vindictive. That is not very nice.

BD: Hey Gandhiji, listen. You are fast asleep and are woken up by your resident with an emergency at 2 AM. Not only you but even your family members are woken up. You rush to hospital to see this man sinking. You promptly ventilate him, stabilize him and go home by 4:30 AM.

Next morning some smart Alec comes and tells you that it was 'MILD' Asthma and you had 'unnecessarily' put the old man on the machine. He even threatens you with a consumer case. Even as other relatives try to pull him out, he says as a parting gesture, "You will never prosper in life for this kind of unethical behavior".

I can understand relatives getting upset. But once they realized the truth, at least someone had to admit the mistake and apologize. We too are human Yaar. What is the guarantee that these people will not create further problems ? So I discharged him. I would treat only those who show trust and respect to the profession.

GD: All people are not like that. You can't generally blame people for what some of them might have done. There are so many good people out there.

BD: Exactly my Dear, exactly. There is no doubt that there are some Doctors who do unethical things. Malpractice is there without a doubt. But then that is not the rule. The Public has a tendency to brand all Doctors as greedy and business minded. They can talk anything, hurt anyone and escape Scott free. That is what I feel is unfair and unethical. 

That exactly is why I don't want my kids to be Doctors. There was a time when I was a young boy, everyone wanted to be a Doctor. Only the lucky would make it. There was so much respect. There was a GP in our town who was a decent Doctor by the present day standards. But he commanded enormous respect and none ever questioned him. All Doctors wanted their kids to be Doctors those days. But today, I know a lot of my friends don't want their kids to be Doctors. 

You don't have holidays. No off days. No earned leaves. No paid holidays. No LTC. We are the people who work longest through a day and then night. But that never gets appreciated. Even if you have an off, you are disturbed by a neighbor with some silly complaint that he has been carrying for 3 months. Just like they say "It's Dog's Life, I would say It's a Doc's Life" !

We had finished our dinner and made the payment. We had to leave. Even though the conversation was still on and still worth following up, we had to leave because my better half was showing signs of unrest. That is something I couldn't afford. So off we went at this stage. I would really have loved to share the entire conversation. But alas, all Good and Bad things have to come to an end. And this was the end ! 

Post Script: I endorse many views expressed by the BD and almost all that was spoken by the GD. That may be because I am an amalgamation of both good and bad. Most of the Doctors are like that. I hope to be more good than bad. But after listening to the 'Bad Doctor', even I had my sympathies with him. I think most of the Doctors will be able to empathize with him.

In the end, the Doctors are as human and as fallible to the vises and greed as the other fellow humans. Does a community that doesn't respect discipline, law and order and traffic rules deserve anything better ? How can the people who accept or give bribes expect Doctors to be above board ? How can a nation which elects Corrupt candidates as their representatives demand for blemish-less Doctors ? Those people who vote on caste or religious lines hold no special rights to question the integrity of Doctors, Actors or even the traitors.

Like Politicians, the People get the Doctors they deserve.
Conversely, the Doctors too get the People they deserve !

Dr. Pundit

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Faby and Me; It's a Dog's Life !

I believe there isn't much of a difference between Pets and Pests. Just an additional 's'. My dislike for pets is a product of growing up in a joint family with some people having great affection for the canines. Having a huge black quadruped panting in your living room, sitting next to you wasn't my idea of a home. But I had to tolerate them and that is how my dislike for all pets was born.

My daughter was about 3 years old when she wanted a kitten at home. I just told her, "Okey Baby, we will bring one. That thing will sleep in your room along with you, eat from your plate and sometimes, just sometimes pee in your bed". Story over.

Coming to circa 2011, I still remain a mile away from animals. Love shooting them and have some real nice ones. But my love for the non-human species is mostly a long distance one. I wouldn't mind the swimming variety though. I had a fascination for the aquarium since childhood and have plans to bring one home soon.

The Big Cat Albino - I shot him !
About 10 months ago, we were passing through very difficult period due to the illness and delicate condition of my Father in law. He subsequently passed away in September. There is a dog in our neighborhood. He is a ferocious black fellow living with our next door neighbors.

For 3 days in succession, me and my daughter were scared out of wits by this demon whenever we stepped out of our house. Our requests to rein him met with amused smiles by his owners. On the third day, I had to retaliate. I shouted at them, "You guys rein him in and keep him tied there. Else I will call the Corporation guys and get him bumped off.".

Never saw him since then till last evening. As I was walking back home after finishing my appointments in my clinic, I saw this fellow. He was growling and staring at me, from a distance. I picked up a stone from the road, just to safeguard  myself from an attack. He looked sullen but not aggressive.

All of a sudden, he started talking in Malayalam, "Don't you worry. I am not like you. I don't carry old grudges. I just don't want to live in that jail for another ten months thanks to you". I just rubbed my eyes in disbelief. I thought the soft drink I drank about an hour ago had something in it.

Looking at my discomfiture, he talked again, "No, you aren't hallucinating. If you can afford to own a 'Car that can Talk' and 'Write', your neighbor can own a talking Dog. They love me more than you ever loved your car. You paid a hefty sum for that white monster. I came free. But they still love me. I know it hurt them when they had to keep me in that jail all these days just because of you".

Convinced about the authenticity of the talking dog, I asked him, "So what makes you talk, that too after such a long time ?  And don't you play the victim. It was your ferocious behavior that prompted me to do what I did. I have the responsibility to protect my child. You were threatening us".

He replied, "You totally mistook me then. I wasn't exactly angry or trying to attack you or your daughter. I was just showing my displeasure at you for talking to a neighbor about getting my brethren bumped off. You were being unfair".

I said, "That is rubbish. One of your brethren had scratched me. I was forced to take those injections. They had become a menace around. They were spoiling this place too...". He asked me politely, "Do you have time to talk ? I can prove you wrong and clear your misplaced delusions of grandeur. By the way, my name is Faby".

That was an open challenge from a Dog to a Man. I could not have let the mankind down. So here goes the dialogue...

Faby: First of all, my cousin didn't scratch you intentionally. That was an accident. He was just playing with another cousin and you just happened to bump into him. It was just plain mishap.

Me: Well, it could be true. But he was very rash...

Faby: Look who's talking. You humans have invented such monstrous vehicles that are running amok on the roads. Do you have any idea how many of my brethren have died ? Leave it alone, do you know how many of your own species have gone under those demons ? Don't you have any remorse ?

Me: Well, that is the price we pay for the progress. I don't deny rash drivers. But even they are punished and put behind the bars.

Faby: Don't tell me. My Master was telling a few days ago that your town has seen more than ten major accidents in less than three months. I heard many people were killed by speeding buses and nobody ever got apprehended. And you forced me into that jail for ten months for just barking at you.

Me: Barking ? You were ready to even bite us that night. You don't know how dangerous you can be. You can spread Rabies.

Faby: Don't preach to me. If we bite, we do it openly. You have so many vaccines and medicines to combat Rabies. It isn't as if we cause Rabies. It affects us too and only when we are out of our minds do we cause problems. When it comes to your species, you are dangerous even without any infection.

Me: Oho, can you elaborate on that ?

Faby: Sure, very easy. When we bite, it is visible. We bite with our teeth. You can wash, use Anti-septic and cleanse and survive. When you bite, you do it with your tongue. And you can cause injuries that wouldn't heal for a lifetime. Yours is the only species on Earth that can bite with a tongue. Back biters !

This was turning out to be quite a dogged Dog !

Me: Mmmm, well, I concede that point. But that is because we are an intellectually evolved race. You guys are not. That perhaps is why you can't back bite but just bite back.

Faby: Never bother to teach me. Intellectual human shit. You think that. First of all, never call us 'Guys'. We are happy being dogs, cats and animals. Guys and Gays and all that excreta is for you humans the despicable forms. And what do you think I am doing ? I can understand your language and talk to you too. It is just that humans never tried to understand 'our' language. Have you not seen how we understand your orders and likes and dislikes ?

Me: Tall claims. You seem to be an exceptionally talented Dog. But most of your species just know how to follow and then bark and bite. That isn't intellectual. You just are not a match to us. If what you say is true, why aren't all dogs talking ?

Faby: From thousands of years, we have seen no man can understand or has even tried to understand our language, feelings and emotions. Then why should we talk your language ? We have just one language. In the name of evolution, you have so many languages. You don't know or respect languages or cultures of other people. You are so good at fighting for the sake of language, regions and religions. We are so much better. In fact I even feel ashamed of myself for even comparing ourselves to you inanimal humans.

Me: Fighting and us. Do you know what we call those who fight ? We call 'Dog eat Dog' race. We believe you dogs fight among yourselves ferociously. How can you blame us ?

Faby: I don't deny we do fight. But our fights are one to one fights. Sometimes we may fight in groups. But we don't hurt other animals during our fights. We sort out inter-dog issues between us. But as I told before, we don't back bite. We also don't send mercenaries to bump off those we don't like. We do it like all respectable dogs do. We fight our own battles. You have Mafia, quotation gangs and all those things. You just don't have the guts of animals to wage your own fights. Such mean creatures.

Me: That is just how human race has evolved. We have progressed due to our intellectual superiority. That is why we are your masters. You just don't have the prowess to do anything that we do and you just crib about it.

Faby: Holy cow. Far from it, I must say we don't obey you or anything like that. We just live with the nature. We have our own ways in life. You humans think you have prospered due to brains. But it is us who have used you. You have always worked towards inventing newer things. We just enjoy the benefits. You have seen our masters take us to Doctors who are human. We also eat food prepared by humans. So many of my brethren live in better conditions than you can even imagine. We are given bath by you. Even our excreta is cleaned by your species. You pay your own species to clear off the mess we create. What do we do ? We are supposed to protect you. And from whom are we supposed to protect you ? From yourself or from your own species. Ridiculous !

Me: Okay, you at least agree we give you all the comforts and it is our species who protect your health. That is why we call it humanity.

Faby: Don't start me on that again. It is just business. Your people go to those miserable places called Veterinary Colleges and kill and dissect our species and other animals to learn about our interiors. Why do you do it ? That is business for you. You earn a living out of it. You claim to treat your own species but you do it for your own selfish means. The so called Veterinarians do the same with us. For them we are just clients. But must say, they are a bit better than you human Doctors. You have branched so much, you don't look at your own species as humans any more. You look at people as a heart or a liver or a brain or a pair of kidneys or a leg or a hand. I wonder if you have separate specialists for different fingers of your hands. Pathetic humans !

This was getting tough. A very knowledgeable Canine. I was on a slippery ground and he was scoring well. So I had to counter him. After all, he had attacked my profession !

Me: All progress will have it's own adverse effects. Some good will come with some bad. We have to take it in a collective sense. If we didn't learn so much about ourselves and then about animals, how could we manage to progress ? You are looking at the negatives and missing the big picture. We have brought so much of improvement in health care !

Faby: Health and Care ? Eh. Do you useless humans have even a basic concept of progress ? First you invented all those terrible foods and ate them and developed all those illness you collectively call 'Lifestyle Disorders'. Then you spend millions to find remedies for them. When life began on earth, there was no AIDS, Diabetes, Heart Attack or Stroke. All these came out of your own move from the womb of nature towards the tomb of so called progress. We seldom get stroke, Heart attack or such illnesses. Even if we fall sick, we have innate immunity to cure ourselves. You people have made life impossible with your inventions. For every illness you claim to have found a remedy, newer maladies have appeared and you are still groping in the dark.

Me: That is life, we have to keep moving. There is no end to progress. More challenges, more progress. You and all of your species and other inhabitants have improved because of us.

Faby: That is a load of unholy human shit. You invented wheel and the vehicles on roads have killed millions since. You invented Bomb and you know the destruction it has lead to. You have invented missiles, warheads and what not ? Basically a problem of hatred or ego between two people. Thousands fight to unleash destruction on both sides. Finally what do you have ? Thousands of dead bodies. Your own brethren, dead before their time. Is this what you call progress ?

You people can't even keep quite. Your inventions like mobile phones have wrecked havoc and so many of those sweet chirping birds have vanished. Just see which species has prospered in numbers. All other species have dwindled, only humans have grown in number. Tigers, Lions and Elephants; all wonderful animals have gone down. And mostly because of you and your progress. Miserable !

I really was miserable now. I finally asked him, "How on earth do you know so much ? How can you counter all my points with such conviction ? A Dog simply can't do it ? Who are you ? Please..."

Faby: Well, now you are talking. I am your conscience. I just had to do this act of illusion to get you to talk to yourself. All of you have a Faby inside. But conscience is like a Dog in your world. You let it loose, it will bite you whenever you are not right. So you people leash it, tie it to some imaginary rope of convenience and push it into a cage in the name of propriety. It is when the caged Conscience stops biting back, you start back biting. That is why you humans get the leaders you deserve. Back biters, hatred-mongers, selfish and despicably destructive creatures.

You pride yourselves about Democracy, intellectualism and all those isms. But what do you actually have ? Leaders who lead you down the wrong paths. Those who lead you to fight among your own species. You have so called Religions supposed to bring peace. What actually is happening ? You are torn into pieces by religions. You have Terrorists, Extremists, Naxalites, Insurgents, Thieves, Robbers, Rapists, Child molesters, Criminals, Psychopaths and all kind of abnormal characters. Is this what you call progress ? If THIS is progress, I prefer to live a Dog's Life !

I had arrived at my home with "Ghar aaya mera Pardesi" playing on television !

Dr. Pundit

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Leave Letter

Once upon a time, there was a school in a small town with an immaculate gentleman for a Headmaster in primary school. As it happens, he got transferred to another place. The gentleman who came in his place wasn't so gentle after all.

He created a lot of ill will in the school; among the teaching fraternity and among the students. From day one, students developed a dislike for him. But they had to hide it because they couldn't have managed to live without interacting with this menacing character.

He used to bring caste and color of students to the fore. He once told the School Pupil Leader [SPL], "Why do you keep the company of those low caste boys ? You are so fair and from a reputed family. You should not mingle with these 'Shudras'". This further diminished his stature in the eyes of the students.

He brought in a lot of new rules and regulations. It was tough on the hitherto happy go lucky life of the kids. One of his new rules demanded pupils to submit a properly worded 'Leave Letter' in English and in advance. One had to give the reason for availing leave in advance. And he wanted all letters directed to him and not the Class-teacher.

A boy wanted to take 3 days leave to visit his grand-parents at Kundapur. Since there was a second Saturday, he could go on a 5 days holiday while taking only 3 days leave.

But he was scared because he had already suffered humiliation from the Headmaster for being from lower caste and for being dark skinned. The Headmaster had called him 'Dim-witted Negro'. So he went to the SPL for help. The SPL was more than willing to help him write the leave letter. Thus the leave letter happened.

Leave Letter

Sadananda P.
S/O Devanna P.
Kabettu, Karkala -  574104

The Headmaster
Government Higher Primary School
Kabettu, Karkala - 574104

Subject: Requisition for leave


Hereby I would like to inform you that I will be suffering from fever from 14 December 1981 to 16 December 1981. Hence I will not be able to attend classes during this period. This is unavoidable because I will be sick during these 3 days.

I request you to kindly grant me leave of absence for these 3 days. I will make up for the absence after I get better and will cover all the subjects after I come back from Kundapur.

Thanking you,
Yours obediently

Sadananda P
11 December 1981

Post Script:

The hand of the SPL behind this letter was recognized instantaneously by the Headmaster. The leave was not granted but the boy was caned. The SPL was spared the rod and saved his position only because he was from a higher caste.

The SPL and other students continued to dislike the Headmaster but had to suffer him for just one more year. Sadananda grew up to be a quick bowler. Today, he owns and drives a taxi in Karkala. The Headmaster committed suicide in 1982. Nobody knew the reason, and fewer lamented him.

The School Pupil Leader went on to become a leg-spinner. He is a Doctor today in a far off place. He used his innate talent at mischief to become a Blogger. He continues to recollect, ruminate and rejoice at the cost of his readers, howsoever small the number might be.

Dr. Pundit

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Beggars can't be Choosers ?

Beggars can't be Choosers !

How often have we heard this idiom ? This might be used to convey those in position of disadvantage don't get to make a choice. But reality often is different. It is the 'Common man' who can't choose, Beggar can !

Let us go to a shopping mall. Once there, we are directed by the security personnel about the where and which angle of parking. We are made to pay a parking fees on an hourly escalating basis. Still the security will not allow you to decide which is the best place for your precious vehicle.

The security staff can be extremely rude even if you ask them to spare a couple of minutes for your aged ones to get down. You ask for directions to the main entrance and expect a curt if not downright rude answer. Often you might be shocked by no response at all. If they are very kind, they might point a finger vaguely and you will have to wade through the confusion.

You are frisked by the security at the entrance. You are asked to open your handbag, valet and even deposit it at the reception. All this 'treatment' is for the crime of going to shop there. And you ask yourself, "Are we Beggars to be treated thus ?"

Not for a moment am I questioning the security measures. They are necessary and we live in an era of continued seize in spite of the death of Oasma bin Laden. I was surprised recently by the absolute lack of security during an IPL match at Kochi. But all acts of security checking can be done with a bit of politeness and nicety. Is it too much to expect 'Politeness' ?

Using the word 'Beggar' is politically incorrect today. They probably will be happy to hold the portfolio of "Professional Free Assistance Seeking Officer" or something like that. Can't even call a spade a sickle today. So respect all professions. What he / she does is his / her profession.

There were reports of Rich PFASOs owning houses, properties and big bank balances with the profession being a family enterprise. Well, if a Politician's progeny can be Politician with no questions asked, why not ?

I am on a Pilgrimage, give me 'My Share' !

This post started questioning 'Beggars can't be choosers' idiom. Hence let me elaborate. There was an old man who came every Saturday morning for alms. He was a nice man and polite. But wouldn't budge if he felt what we gave him was insufficient. He wouldn't complain but would stand there till my mother gave him more. After every 3 or 4 months, he would say, "I will not be coming next two weeks. Going to Vellankani. So give my share for the next 2 weeks today itself and add some more for the pilgrimage. The Mother will bless you"

Great Expectations !

We all know how PFASOs refuse coins these days. Many a times, I have come across PFASOs saying, "What will five rupees buy today ? If you give, give something substantial. I can't even buy a meal with this pittance". One beggar threw the one rupee coin I gave him back at me as I was about to leave. I couldn't understand what he was muttering though I could understand he was obviously cursing. God, piety, luck, prosperity, hereafter, heaven and hell and Dharma are the commonest words used by these people to cajole, threaten and even extort.

Curse of a Pious Man !

A family of 8 people dressed very decently came without knocking one day. They had crowded my living room after entering my home without permission. They claimed to be from Maharashtra, belonging to our community. The headman said, "We are one community. We lost our properties due to flood, famine and drought. You must help us because you can't be having dignified people of our community begging". 

Looking at a printed letter in Hindi, Marathi and English, purportedly attested by some Gazetted Officer; I offered to pay fifty rupees. He said, "Oho Brother, I said we are not beggars. We are dignified people. We need cloths, money and even food. We don't want this kind of 'Bhiksha'. Be generous and God will be generous to you".

I asked him, "So what do you expect ?". He then started name dropping of his kind. He blurted out the names of big people who had given him thousands of rupees, new dresses and even silverware. I tried to be polite and said, "But I am not a rich man. This is all I can afford to give". He immediately admonished me, "Never say you are not a rich man. The Gods will curse you to eternal poverty. What you give is yours. What you hide is taken by others. A generous man will go to heaven and the selfish will rot in hell. Don't lead your life to hell..."

I could take it no longer. I cut him down and I asked, "So where will you go ? What will happen to those who have all their body parts in good condition and still prefer to extract alms from other people rather than work for a living ?". He became furious and snorted, "You have insulted a cultured and proud family and a pious man. I curse you to rot in hell for 32,000 years. You and your family will never see good days from now".

Worried at rotting in hell for such a long time, my Mom pleaded with me to placate him and give him more money. He immediately jumped in between us and said, "Look, a worthy lady for a Mother. Listen to her and atone your sin. Else all of your family, children and  even future generations will suffer the consequences of your sin..."

I gestured him to stop and said, "Stop right there. I would prefer to rot in hell for 96000 years if such a place exists, than give a damned coin to you. You leave my home NOW without uttering another word of your gibberish. Else I will punch your nose till you bleed and then call Police to say you tried to rob us. LEAVE RIGHT NOW".

Look how Beggars choose to choose ! A topic like this can go on and on. We all have these kind of experiences. But I have to stop here for the lack of brevity my posts always attain. May be more stories on another day. There will never be a dearth of 'Choosers' in this land !

Dr. Pundit