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The Need And Burden Of Money
Occasional heart problems necessitated my hospitalization recently. After taking admission I struck an acquaintance with my next bed patient, a septuagenarian who had made the hospital almost his home for quite some time as I got to know from his introduction. “I have a peaceful retired life with my wife but my sons would not allow me to undertake domiciliary treatment as I have some Gastroenterological problems now”. He said with a sigh but showing visible signs of glee at the same time boasting about his sons. “Money is no problem for them and they have asked me to remain in the hospital even for months, if need be, for proper diagnosis and follow up treatment. You know they have unlimited property and money and have already taken me around the globe twice” He added. “What do they do”- I enquired being curious to know the source of such huge money needed to be detained for such an uncertain period in the prestigious private hospital when he told me that his sons were established businessmen striking it rich by dealing in property. I came to know that while one son purchased and sold huge chunks of lands the other was a promoter developing and building apartments. Though like many others I was itching for an early escape from the place to return home my unfortunate neighbor, though homesick, had no other alternative but to remain in the hospital for days together to satisfy his rich sons!
I was soon taken to the Cath lab for angiographic detection of any heart problem . I found two men just beside me queuing up for the test. Both of them tested positive in coronary angiography and were advised to immediately go for angioplasty or bypass surgery to remove the blockages, which needed huge expenditure. While the younger person had no problem to fork out the needed sum at one go then and there the other person was seen to be immersed in deep anxiety to bring that money. He will perhaps have to wait for quite a long before he could arrange for the requisite sum.While trying to share his profound worries he said “ You know I have no other option but to go back home for the present and come back for the operation when I can make an arrangement. I shall have to take the risk now.” I required no such operation and I only wished that the hapless man had such an affluent son to bear the colossal expenditure burden!
Acting on the doctor’s advice I had to spend the night at the hospital and my neighboring patient was very happy to find me back again. “I shall be discharged tomorrow since I need no further stay here” I assured him clearly when he was relieved but at the same time found to be again submerged in his own reflections- not money wise but jolting his peace of mind definitely. His initial glee seemed to be much dampened noticing how he would be left alone when others were gradually leaving the place. “ I got a benign person like you but you will also disappear from the scene shortly. So many patients are pouring into the hospital and go back in due course but only I have to stay put. You know how much my grandsons love me. I shall miss them so much so long I am here”. He poured out his trouble to me .” “Then why don’t you leave and see the best Gastroenterologist in the city and follow his advice in your homely comfort”. I asked him advisedly. “You know my sons have no faith in such treatment. They only wish to get me thoroughly examined by the experts here before I am allowed to go home. They have money and their only problem is when I do not have the scope to burn”.
In the evening visitors' hour I could find his sons meeting him to inquire about his health .While they appeared to be concerned about their father they were more careful about showing their opulence which was manifest in their discussing the sleek cars they were using and the gorgeous ornaments their wives were receiving as a gift every month. I could discover a deep dissatisfaction writ large on his face but the old man tried his best to ensure that his face did not betray the disgust lest his sons' sentiments should be hurt.
I was discharged from the hospital the next morning and bade goodbye to him who in turn wished me best of time ahead and went back to the window looking pale and sullen. I was soon back home safely ensconced among my family members but my experience during the short stay at the health center has given me the rare opportunity to learn how a section of the society enjoys frittering away money while another section just languishes for want of the important and useful entity which brings joy, comfort, respite and at times inescapable subservience.
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