I had a temporary house-help when my regular one, Aruna was going away for four days. This happens quite often. When it’s more than 2 days, she knows she has to get me a replacement. So one evening Aruna got Fatima to introduce and explain the work. The issue was she would not be able to come before 7:30 am and we leave home by 7:45 am for work. My husband said he could stay back, work from home and go later after she finishes work. Biggest plus of Fatima was she spoke hindi though the first three days of work, I almost never met her. I left breakfast and tea on the kitchen platform and would be leaving when she enters the house.
On Saturday I was home. She started telling me that she works at another apartment in the same housing complex where we stay. And the other family who left for America. When I asked her whether she has work in the morning and is that why she comes late. She started to talk about her husband who had a heart operation. Both of them have never attended school, so she could not even communicate what really was the illness.
Her husband is a daily wage labour who loads and unloads heavy stuff for a living. He complained of chest pain and they went to few doctors practising in the neighbourhood in their clinics. From being gas to chest congestion to several such diagnosis were made and medicines given, until one doctor said “go to a bigger hospital and go right now”. From her descriptions I gathered something with the heart and an operation was done and vein was taken from the leg for grafting, that the hospital is a tall building right on the main road, the doctor’s name and that they had not have to spend any money on the operation. On the basis of their ration card, BPL status they were given free treatment under the Arogyashri scheme and the first round of medicines were for free.
The problem was they had no money for further medicines and so have not gone for check up in the past two months.
One of those times, when one is thankful for serendipity. The hospital she mentioned was CARE hospital. We could get her an appointment, consultation and bought the next round of medicines.
There is no doubt that we need better Public Health policy, better government hospitals, follow up check-ups to be made free of cost as well and this should not have been left for serendipity. But here is a corporate hospital, and doctors who listened to their calling and did their duty to treat and save a less privileged life.
Fatima is still the only working person from the family, struggling to send her two children to school take care of her husband and provide food, clothing and shelter to her family.
I do not always like the fact that my husband works with a hospital, 6 days a week, examples of illness and disease make me sad, discussions on methods of operations and treatments give me the nightmares. I am personally petrified of hospitals.
But these are some of the times I feel happy, and proud.