Living Beyond Life!
It all began with a phone call from Dad, who’d gone to Pune for half-a-day’s work. Since he had some extra time on his hands, he decided to visit his ophthalmologist. Just a routine checkup, that’s all. Or so he thought. As Mom and I sat comfortably sipping our evening chai, Dad called – “My retina has slipped a bit from its position and is in danger of detaching completely from the eye,” he told us. “I have been advised to undergo a corrective surgery immediately. In fact, yesterday would have been ideal”.
And so it began. Dad stayed on in Pune and got all the other mandatory tests done then and there. Mom and I ran up and down the house, packing our bags and arranging insurance paperwork. We rushed to Pune on the next available bus. My sister wasn’t even in town and wouldn’t have made it back in time even if she’d wanted to.
What followed was hectic and unexpected to say the least. We reached Pune to discover that my aunt (Mom’s much older sister), at whose house we were to stay, had undergone a cataract surgery just 5 days ago. What’s more, the surgery for her other eye was scheduled for the same day as Dad’s! There was a wedding in our immediate family the very day after Dad’s surgery, so Mom had to rush back home for a day to host some relatives for a night at our house. The day after, Mom made sure they got onto their train safely and, rushed back to Pune only to find me doing a balancing act between Dad, Aunty and Uncle – the latest patient to join the group! To add to all this, Aunty’s operated eye developed an infection.
So Mom and I ended up with 3 patients under our care. Luckily, we managed to keep our wits’ about us and handle it all.
One day, Mom, Aunty and I were talking about how life changes with a single unexpected event – in this case, Dad’s impromptu visit to his ophthalmologist. Aunty suddenly sighed, “But I am grateful for one thing – the timing of all this. I hadn’t informed anyone about my cataract surgery because it’s so common these days. Your Uncle and I thought we could manage it ourselves. We hadn’t thought about “what if both of us fell ill”. But you all came here, albeit for an unfortunate reason, and it turned out to be such a blessing! We couldn’t have taken care of ourselves in this situation. All the bad things have happened at the same time, but at least we were there for each other. Thank God for that!”
Mom and I couldn’t have agreed more. It was a sad situation indeed, but we supported each other through it. Uncle and Aunty being much older than Mom & Dad, stood like pillars by us throughout it all. While none of us let it show, we were all nervous and a bit scared. Dad’s surgery was quite serious- he’d almost lost his eye. But Uncle and Aunty kept his spirits up with their constant chatting and jokes, old stories and hilarious memories. We, in turn, kept them entertained with all our fun crazy experiences. In the end, everything was alright, everyone was fine. And that was reason enough to be grateful.
But it was actually something else Aunty and Mom were discussing that made me think. “Who must’ve come up with these surgery techniques? Who must’ve first discovered how to diagnose or successfully rectify something as delicate as an eye?” “Hmm… they must have tested it for years before perfecting it, obviously,” replied Aunty, “and many people must have lost their eyesight in the process.”
That hit me hard. She was right! All sciences, even medical science, were not born this refined. They have evolved very very slowly through centuries of trials and errors. Truly, so many must’ve sacrificed so much before medicine reached its present level of sophistication. Think about it – how many people through centuries must have lost their eyes for reasons similar to Dad’s? How many others must have voluntarily or involuntarily helped in developing this cure for it? Not just eyes, but for every ailment that exists… countless people must have participated in experiments for them. Some brave hearts must have gone against tradition and religion to pledge their bodies for research purposes after death, so that someday, someone could benefit from it. I have known a person who said he always stayed healthy so that “when I die, someone can get a new life with my heart or liver”.
The credit for the success of Dad’s surgery goes to his doctors for sure. But it goes also to all those unseen, unsung, forgotten heroes. It was their foresight, benevolence and righteousness that have brought us to where we are today. How do I thank that centuries old doctor who must’ve first studied what the retina is and how it works? Where do I find the genius who made the tools that aid in such surgeries? How do I express my sympathy and gratitude to those who must have lost their eyesight in the process of finding the perfect cure for this? How do I help their families who must have undoubtedly been affected by this colossal loss?
Most of those people are long gone but only physically. They continue to live through us – the innumerable people who have been gifted a new lease of life through their thoughtful deeds. I certainly can’t meet them now. But the least I can do is acknowledge them, remember them, and, taking inspiration from them, help in every which way possible by contributing to such causes. I thank them now as I watch Dad gazing lovingly at the rain-washed world outside… its all thanks to them.
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