"Why are your eyes red?" asked Akanksha, on meeting after almost two months of the Rajasthan schedule for Mr. Benegal's "Road, Movie". I didnt have an answer, I checked in the mirror and thought, must be due to the traffic, or pollution, dust or something. Little did i know that Akanksha could see the danger coming, and well I could not. As usual, ignoring her concern, I went on with my activities, of being the part of post production team.
A few days later, it did come, like the invasion of those deadly locusts in Days of Heaven. First, in the form of rashes on the body leading to the scare and doubt of it being 'measles' and later in the form of high fever, extreme weakness and loss of appetite. As, the eyes started getting more red with passing days, I went to a physician. She suggested a few tablets and asked me to come after a week, But I had my sixth sense telling me
"ma'am my condition is too weak to survive on your small tablets till the next bloody week".
And since it was measles I was frightened to go to any of my Uncle's or Masi's place, fearing they all have kids ranging from the age of 8 to 20, who can be easily susceptible to such viral infections.
I can understand how some people would like to run away from such trouble rather than helping out the diseased. In a city, where every other day you find a dead body lying unattended on a local train station, the act of ignoring or even hating the idea of you being forced to see a diseased person for a few days in your house, is completely logical. In addition to it, you also have the fear of getting the virus transmitted, but then measles do not come so easily to adults as it comes to children. Thus, with those individuals I can empathize, but I cant respect them.
This is where in a state of complete helplessness, all one needs is a two second of concern and a gentle smile that "all will be well". No wonder Munnabhai is one of the best characters to come on screen in recent years, so much so that you wish that every hospital had a post called "the healer" without the patient knowing it who he or she is.
Coming back to the sob-story, on 21st October, MNS (Maharashtra Navnirman Sena) called for a local transport strike. No auto taxi or cab was allowed to ply on Bombay roads. On this fateful day, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. A "stranger to this city" Tanmay and a workaholic Akanksha were subjected to run from pillar to post in a city that they were far from familiar. They knew no good doctors, no good hospital and almost no good people.
Akanksha's colleague came to help, she suggested her family doctor, Dr. Shenoy in Santacruz West, Shastri Nagar. On examining me for five minutes, Dr. Shenoy told us to rush for a Blood Test. The apocalypse had begun. The blood sample took away whatever little energy I had. I sat there on the steps of that "world's most expensive" (or so I thought) laboratory. Akanksha rushed to an ATM and Tanmay ran to get some food, whatever he could lay his hands on. At that moment, even in that state, it occurred to me how could someone feel if he/she is left alone to die in a city of billions.
The results of the Blood Test were soon out and by the time the results came (in some 5 hours), I had completely lost consciousness, as they say "life was getting blurred and out of focus", the only thing I remember is Tanmay's mom, Ruchi Aunty and Akanksha talking to Dr. Shenoy over the phone and uttering words like "admit", "hospital", "ambulance".
Before I knew, I was inside an ambulance that was enjoying its fast pace on the empty streets of Mumbai at 7 30 pm, the so-called rush hour in the evening. Well, in a certain sense it was a rush hour. As we reached hospital, there was a wheel-chair ready, on which I was put and the only visual I saw or I remember is Tanmay paying the ambulance driver.
Now as they show in movies, big hospitals have their own way of dealing with any and every kind of patients.
"25,000/- deposit" said the man at the reception. Remember those were early days in Mumbai to have your bank account filled with that much amount.
And as it happens in the movies, like a fairy tale godmother came Bhavya Mishra with her Citi Bank card. Whoa, the next minute I was in the ICU with all kinds of needles, tubes, bottles, sharp objects, bandages and an army of nurses working. Dr. Abhishek Bhargav entered the ICU, he was informed by Akanksha and Dr. Shenoy about the Blood count and all the different kinds of numbers from haemoglobin to platelets, from WBC to RBC. Akanksha was talking like an expert with the doctors and for a moment I thought, "was she an undercover Doctor" like Dipti Naval in that film, when Utpal Dutt gets a heart stroke. Ah- the perils of being a movie buff, you can never gauge the seriousness of a situation. Many more tests were conducted, with no certain results - neither it was Dengue, nor it was the deadly Falciparum. Even the virus was confused. The only thing they knew was that the platelet count in blood had gone terribly low and there was no resistance power left in the body. If it was mental resistance, I could have shown "Who's your daddy!", but here I didn't have a choice.
I came to senses when there were five people rubbing my feet, like that monotone sound that suddenly switches to the atmosphere sounds. From then till next seven days, I was subjected to the pungent odour of the hospital, the sight of patients with even more dangerous problems, shift-changing nurses, regular visits from concerned relatives, ever-increasing medical bills, a sense of claustrophobia, a set of worried parents and my worst fear in life - those Knife-like POINTED god-damned Injections.
The most touching memory of this whole incident: Hospitals have this system of Lunch for relatives of patients. Over one such lunch, my father broke down and couldn't end thanking Dr. Akanskha "from the depth of his heart" for saving Hardik. (from the depth of one's heart)
This week, 21st-27th October is the first anniversary of that incident.
I cannot end this write-up without this: Thank you Tanmay, Ruchi Aunty, Bhavya and Dr. Akanksha. I owe it to you.
(let it sound like an Oscar speech, after all life is precious)
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