I have been dealing with a few health issues lately. This has caused me, a complete lazy ass when it comes to hospitals, to visit a nearby hospital around five times by now. On one of this visit, at 8:30 in the morning, I had to get an ultrasound done after a blood test. I was standing in the room where ultrasound is done and speaking to the person in charge of scheduling the same. This person was – Alka. She asked me if I had a date assigned and I politely said no. Then, as is the case with a number of Govt. Hospitals, she started speaking a very rude manner, saying, “Don’t know where these people come from, without any assigned dates, don’t speak to the Doctor beforehand and then come to trouble us” and God knows what else. The whole issue was that apparently I was supposed to come and ‘take a date’ to get the ultrasound done and I hadn’t done so. The reason for me not having done that was that I was never told about it by my Doctor. My Doctor had simply told me to come empty stomach, get the fasting blood sugar test done and then get an ultrasound done. Now I had been up by 6:30 AM for these tests, had already got my blood test, was empty stomach, with about one and a half litres of water inside (a prerequisite for abdomen ultrasound that I was required to have done) and for that day, had taken permission from office to be late by an hour or so owing to these tests. If I did not get these done the same day, I would have had to repeat the ordeal for no fault of mine. So, I went inside the Doctor’s chamber and explained all this to her. The Doctor very nicely told Ms. Alka to accept my case the same day. Following this, she again told me how it was wrong of me to go and speak to the doctor without her permission. I was irritated by now, by her behavior, language, tone, lack of food and a full bladder while I couldn’t use the washroom for at least next 30 minutes. I felt very bad. I must have uttered some curses under my breath. Anyways, for some reason, I couldn’t get the test done that day and was asked to come again, for which I took the appointment to avoid the ordeal.
Yesterday, I had to visit the hospital again to collect some of my reports. It was 5 PM and workers were going back home. While coming back I saw the same lady, Ms. Alka, walking past me. I don’t know what happened to me but I asked her, politely of course, why she was so rude to me the other day. What she told me then made me feel at loss. These were her exact words – “Dekhiye, aap to ek hi din aate hain. Aapko kya pata hum kaise kaam karte hai. Humari Mummy ki death ho gayi, humare husband ki bhi death ho gayi, ek beti thi, wo bhi brain tumor se mar gayi, bas papa hain, wo paralysed hai. Subah 4 baje uthkar, unhe latrine bathroom kara ke, nahla khila ke, hum aate hai. Subah theek chhod kar aate hain, shaam ka pata nahi kis halat me milenge. akele rehte hai, koi madad karne wala bhi nahi. Hum to itna baar transfer ke liye keh chuke hain, koi sunta nahi. To boliye kaise hum baat karenge?”
Loosely translated this meant, “See, you come only once in a while, How would you know how we work. My mother is dead, my husband is also dead, I had a daughter, she also died of brain tumor, I only have a father who is paralysed. I get up at 4 in the morning, help my father in his daily routine of using the toilet and bathroom, serve him food and then come to work. I leave him fine in the morning, dreading in what condition will I find him when I go back home after work in the evening. I stay alone, there is no one to help. I have even asked for a transfer many times but no one listens. In such a scenario, you tell me how would I talk?”
All I could do then was listen and nod politely. I didn’t know what to say. But I told myself one thing that moment, I shall not judge someone or their behavior. I don’t know what they have been through and I have no right whatsoever of passing a judgment on anyone without knowing their history and their conditions. A lesson learnt, learnt well in all humility.