15th of August! So what?

This was the first year that I did not see the national flag being hoisted either in person or on the television. Every year, I used to attend the flag hoisting ceremony in some school nearby or at least get to see it on the television. This is the first year that I did not listen to the national anthem. This is the first year that I did not even realize that 15th August was actually our Independence Day!

What was I doing then? I was getting enlightened as to what this day meant to thousands of poor people, who are at the mercy of a corrupt and inefficient system. I was getting educated as to what life means to millions of the unfortunate commoners, whose problems are more serious than celebrating our Independence Day or saluting our flag! I was getting hit with the hard truth that only the rich and mighty have the right to live in this country and the poor have no place here!

All these I learnt, because I was forced to enter the dreaded Government hospital with a little child who is suffering from blood cancer of the worst kind and is counting his days innocently. I was shocked to hear on 11th August that my maid’s eight-year-old lovely son was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia, when my maid came crying with her innocent son, who returned from school in his usual jolly mood! Yes! There were no symptoms, except for some black patches in some parts of his body. Then started my nightmare! We rushed him to the government hospital for cancer care and got the harsh truth confirmed. He is now in the hospital awaiting the most dreaded treatment – chemotherapy. We spent all the six days of this week running from hospital to hospital to find out if there is some way of saving this bundle of joy. But we realized that good health care is the prerogative of the rich and the poor have to accept whatever is given to them as the best care.

By ‘whatever’, you can understand what I mean. I do not want to spell it out since I too depend on this hospital for the poor child’s recovery. It is pathetic to see thousands of poor illiterate patients coming in from all over the state to this hospital and struggling in a system, which even educated people find it very hard to manage with. The after effects of chemo are scary. Doctors are not Gods. Death is a common scene. I realized why the Buddha renounced the world after seeing this hospital.

True, death is imminent. But why such brutal ways? Why does God punish innocent children with this dreadful disease? How can the poor mothers bear to see the untold pain and miseries of their own children? It was shocking to hear people spending months together or sometimes years together, over there.

Health is really the best kind of wealth. I feel guilty that I am unable to get him the best treatment, which is available only in private hospitals, because of the exhorbitant cost.

Real independence is yet to be achieved. Only when every citizen can avail all the basic needs – food, clothing, good health care and education, can you say that the country is prosperous and independent. Here, millions of people are still the slaves of a corrupt, inefficient and insensitive system. So, how does it matter whether the date is 15th of August?

About Sudha Narasimhachar 32 Articles
Sudha Narasimhachar is an ex-banker and freelance writer.

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