It was Monday and I was on the gate of NGO at sharp 10 AM, the designated time of my appointment. I met Miss Ira, the head of NGO in her office. She was a beautiful lady in her fifties. She exuded a charm which can only result from a noble cause, a service which she was doing for suffering humanity. I bowed to her. I felt a sense of shame and guilt that I have made my life so pre-occupied with myriad of useless things that I hardly thought about any charitable services.
Whatever service I was doing was part of my professional duty and besides giving me bread and butter, it was providing me a sense of achievement and of course was successful in creating an ego wall around me. It was not a selfless service; the ego was always hidden underneath. Miss Ira told me about the children who lived there, the stories of their love and loss of their most prized possessions, their parents and their triumph against all odds.
I could see the delight in her eyes, the satisfaction of being able to justify her birth on this earth, a birth which was not being wasted on meaningless life but lived for a purpose, for an apposite goal. She thanked me for sparing time from my busy schedule and visiting her Center. She knew about our frantic schedules and our mad rush for finishing our daily work. Miss Ira understood that as a doctor, I was trying to do my best but there was never enough time to provide every patient the time he deserves actually, that quantity might be a fatality but it was quality which was also being compromised. However, she acknowledged that it was a gigantic task and could not be managed until and unless we have systemic changes in the health care system.
Afterwards, she escorted me to Arvind’s room. His room was sparsely furnished with a small bed and one table and chair. He had just finished his breakfast and was having his huge intake of antiviral medicines, for his illness, an illness which was going to be his companion for his life time. Arvind wished us and thanked me for visiting him. Though he looked fragile and weak, his face was shining and his demeanor composed.
I marveled at his determined face and resolute expression. Miss Ira left me with Arvind. I made myself comfortable on chair as he wanted to rest on bed. He was happy that I could spare my time for him and thanked me for the visit. I hadn’t yet told him that I was not there as a doctor but I was there to find that elusive master, who could let me understand the mysteries of life. “I always wanted to visit the orphanage, this NGO but you hastened my decision to come here!” I said He again smiled and there were million answers in that smile which I still had to untie and understand. “Can I ask you something?” I continued.
“Sure!” He replied.
“I was going through your case and I found that your parents died of AIDS when you were very young and you also had AIDS as you acquired it through birth.”
“And you have been staying in this orphanage since the time your parents died. Do you remember your parents?” “I just remember them vaguely as I was too young when they died. It was my grandfather who admitted me in one of the orphanages when he couldn’t look after me anymore due to his old age. Later I was moved to this orphanage run by the Ms Ira’s NGO. “Arvind, I was going through your records. I realized you have been quiet ill with HIV related problems And besides physical ailments, Miss Ira told me that you had to face the worst kinds of adversity from the early childhood, that of indifference and apathy...the things which are sometimes worse than physical illness. How it’s possible for you to remain unaffected by all of these things?”
I knew that I was unreasonable, crossing the boundaries of my professional ethics but I had no choice. I was trying to seek answers from Arvind who was fighting death, to understand the meaning of life. Arvind smiled an innocent smile of 14 year old. His radiant face reflected his inviolate existence, and the shining eyes, his zest for life. “Our body is great gift from the existence and it’s exactly what we have desired during our previous life times. It’s the sum total of all our desires and our choices. We have acquired it through our parents, through our birth from their union. Although we inhibit our body but we are not the body. It’s just a place for the soul to reside, to grow and evolve. It’s a temple of our spirit, our soul. And we should look after this temple with utmost respect and care it deserves. But it’s not the end in itself; our body is a medium to reach our soul. Our body may be violated, may have to suffer because of physical ailments, may be broken, and may be destroyed but the soul remains unaffected, untouched and detached.”
~ To be continued