Barh is a small town 75 kilometers from Patna I remember going there when I was very young and sitting in the clinic of Bade papa (big daddy), my uncle, Dr. S.P.Deokuliar—a very simple man with a big heart. He was a noted civil surgeon. I remember the poor coming to him and him lovingly treating them, very often not charging a fee. Bade Papa loved the place and lived there for much of his life.
Last week he passed away. I went to see the family in the same small town. Not much had changed; there was the smell of cow dung around, people doing their simple tasks, and small shops along the road dealing in a few rupees. The poverty of people around was still glaringly visible.
As I sat there, a simple villager who had walked a long distance came to pay his last respects. He sat next to me, a city dweller, and began to chat.
“Doctor Sahib did not just give us the medicines, he cared and he loved—he would even take us to the hospital because he knew we would find it hard there. He would make sure all went well since we were very poor.”
I felt proud of Bade Papa.
Sitting on the wooden bench outside Bade Papa’s clinic I was reminded of an incident that happened in Delhi a few weeks ago. I met a young, enthusiastic, and opinionated doctor.
She said, “I am aghast to see the greed in my profession. One day a man came to the hospital. He had a simple headache – but my senior doctor made him do various unnecessary tests that were beyond his means. The man did the tests and went out with a bill of Rs 50,000/-. Sad! The doctors here are interested in making money and only making money.”
A couple of others standing next to me echoed the same sentiment. I have heard this kind of story repeated again and again. The man with the headache left, cheated by a person he was trusting. The senior doctor was not a good model for her, Bade papa would have been.
I am sure there are good doctors around today as well, but I suppose they may be few spread very thin in this vast nation. Greed can change an efficient doctor; it can change you and me.
We need to understand that a man’s life does not consist on the abundance of his possessions.
I am hoping that society will see many people, especially doctors like Bade papa, who would lay aside greed and treat the hurting.