A mother sat on the floor, her teenage daughter’s head on her lap; the kid was exhausted and it was the mother getting treated. A couple sat on the floor and shared a meal. A grown man broke down talking to someone on the phone, while his attendant desperately tried his hand at consoling him; obviously the words having no effect. A woman slumped with her head resting on her hands placed on the seat before her; maybe that position brought her some comfort. A man in a lungi, staring blankly into space; he was all alone.
Volunteers manning a desk, handed out brochures along with an extra kind word. I stood at the centre of a seeming sea of humanity; everyone in the same boat as they battled the same storm. While the folks I had accompanied took some time to adjust to these scenes; muscle memory seemed to kick in for me. I was at the TATA Memorial hospital today; a person near and dear had to go there for a check up. I had gone along. The entire day I witnessed these scenes stretching across the entire gamut of emotions. Weapons down, Hope lost, the still fighting spirit shoring someone up, that little boy clutching onto someone as he was wheeled to some procedure — so much of the building had changed and yet everything seemed the same from a long time ago — 25 years or so when I was last here.
The indomitable spirit of every staff member, be it doctor or support was still shining. They hustled and bustled as the great throng of people threaten to engulf every single protocol made here. They spoke with empathy with every one — even with the chap throwing his weight quoting the group company he worked in, they helped someone through his rage on having to come here one more time than required for a misplaced report. It is an incredible thing to witness, the phrase “grace under pressure” is played out every moment.
Not that people want to be mean or anything; its just the enormous pressure of battling with the emperor of maladies that it gets to them sometimes. Everyone understands, everyone takes a step back and lets the rage subside and then reach out to say — hey, I am here mate. Like the patient who made space on the bench for another and offered her some water. Or that boy who graciously gave up his charging point to another.
Then I saw this couple with child on the lady’s shoulder. They had this lovely little smile on their faces. The one that blesses a couple who have resolved to fight it out; a smile of quiet confidence in their abilities which when joined go beyond the sum of it all. The child slept right through. They walked, nay glided, with admirable poise until the sea of humanity consumed them. I wished them well and hoped that it was the day they had defeated the emperor. I hope that I don’t meet them there tomorrow and that they will be savouring victory at home.
Rab Rakhha, little one.