My Patient ~ My Healer : Part 1

Previous Part: Introduction


It was my second meeting with Arvind, my young patient, 14 years of age, who was living with HIV. His both parents died of AIDS when he was a small child of four. He was living at the orphanage run by NGO. I was watching him from the corner of my eyes through the half closed door of my chamber. He was waiting patiently for almost two hours for his turn. 

It was month of May and Delhi was very hot, almost like an oven. The air-conditioner of the patient waiting area was not working and patients were queuing up for seeking counselling and testing in that unbearable heat. At times, he was being pushed by the unruly crowd or I should say by the patients, who were also suffering in that heat and couldn’t manage to tolerate it. But he never reacted. He would just look at them, move a little and then again acquire the same lotus like posture...lotus which is symbolic of Indian school of spirituality. I was amazed with his perseverance and calm demeanor. 

It was always hard for me, the Wednesday sessions when children from this NGO would come to our Centre for monitoring of their HIV status. Every six month, we would check for the blood level of virus in their blood as well as the degree of their immune defense mechanism. Hard because, I simply couldn’t see children suffer, for no fault of their own as most of them had acquired the virus from their parents or through blood transfusion. It was like someone is being punished for the crime which he has never committed. However as a doctor, I had to keep my head high, smile intact and resolution strong to deal with my inner demons and at the same time providing treatment and reassurances to these children. 

Some of them too young to even understand the meaning of HIV and AIDS would simply come to session with their caretakers, as if they are out for some picnic. Their sparkling excitement, their innocent smiles, their intermediate existence encouraged me to go ahead with the schedule every time. Arvind was sitting in front of me. His effusive smile was infectious and I smiled back. “How you are doing?” 

Not too bad. I have been keeping quiet well.” He replied. 

My eyes at the same time were checking his laboratory reports and which ominously shows him positive for tuberculosis. But as if the report didn’t belong to him. He looked good and didn’t betray sign of affliction if he had any. I looked up once again so as to not miss any remote sign of illness and compromise my professional competence. As part of my duty, I reordered for the test but something kept telling me that test report was correct. What was unexpected was Arvind’s response to his ailment. It was as if he was separate from the body, the body that was going through the disease. I couldn’t stop myself on that day and I asked Arvind the secret of his joy, secret of his detachment from his pain, secret of his unending hope and his love for life, a life which was so full of hardships and suffering. 

He smiled and expressed his gratitude for medical help extended to him and told me to call him for discussing my queries, whenever I was free. I had yet to find any child who was so young but sounded so mature in his response. I immediately planned to see him at the orphanage. I contacted NGO’s head and asked her permission to visit her Centre. She was very happy with my proposal. It was first time that some health care personal was volunteering to visit the orphanage run by her. 

She promptly accepted my request and advised me to see her on forthcoming Monday. She promised me to arrange my meeting with Arvind. What I could gather from my interaction with her was that Arvind was indeed a gifted child who in spite of his difficult life had inspired other children to exalt. Somewhere deep within, I consistently had a vague feeling that it was through Arvind, I was going to get answers to my questions, the questions which were bothering me since long time.

~ To be continued