Monday, March 5, 2012

Night In A Hospital

It was hot in the afternoon as I started towards SSKM Hospital, Calcutta (Kolkata) on 26th February, 2012. The previous night my Uncle was admitted following a mild heart attack. He was settled, out of danger and I was carrying lunch for him. I entered the premises and looked around for the Cardiology Department. One of my friends had joined me and we were roaming. I asked someone who actually showed me the wrong way, then I called up a my Aunt to know the exact location and finally I spotted the building. And the first thing I saw on my way, just infront of the building was this:

This old fellow is a permanent resident at the premises and trust me, it has been here for years. It's favorite location during the day is the shed of the Cardiology Department. Amazed Me, started moving ahead. Then after being there for around two hours I started my journey back home coz that night I would stay at the hospital. Only one person per patient family is allowed to stay. 

8pm: I started from home towards the hospital again after finishing my dinner. I was carrying a bag (quite big) with me which had fruits, a diary, a pen, few newspapers, camera, cigarettes, water and a book (Ritwik Ghatak's "Chalochitra Manush Ebong Aaro Kichu").

9.15pm: I reached the hospital and proceeded towards the ward. Checked if all is fine with Uncle or not. He was asleep so I went up to the nurse on duty and queried, "38 nomber bed-er patient dinner koreche..? Ami ekhuni elam aar uni ghumochchen, taayi apnake jiggesh korchi [Has the patient of Bed number 38 had his dinner? Actually, I came just now and he is sleeping, so I'm asking you.]. "Patient ke jiggesh korun. Ami 8 taye esechi, bolte parbo na" [Ask your patient, I've come at 8pm, I don't know] came the reply in one of the weirdest tone you'll ever hear. Amazed and irritated I left that room and went back to the ward. I thought for a while and checked the tiffin boxes and found them empty. I was at peace that he had his dinner. Silly me, I thought, I could have done that at first and I proceeded to find a place for me for the night.

Well, it was crowded that night. All beds were full. Patients were kept on make-shift beds on the corridor.

I was roaming around and exploring the place as well searching for a place were I can sit or lay for the night. Meanwhile, I thought I must visit the loo before proceeding, so I went and trust me, it was a shocker. That's the only place which is not clean.

Somehow, I managed myself and left the loo quite fast. Then I as I progressed I found that there are some chairs in front of the Operation Theatre and a man was also sleeping there.

I thought there's enough space and I can also manage with three empty chairs. So I settled in there. As I looked on the other side of the corridor, I found another man sleeping.

I was at that point of time happy coz the place was very clean and not at all crowded. So I settled in there. After a while the person sleeping next to me left (he never returned back). I sat their, looked around, had some water and clicked:

This was from the window. Then before laying down I visited uncle again, everything was perfect (hopefully). People were standing, sitting, talking on the corridor. Some people were sleeping at the edge of there patients bed. I walked back to my position (chairs opposite OT). After a while, I laid down and saw a man come out of the waiting area of OT, he was chatting on the phone. Here is the excerpt of the one-sided conversation I heard:

"Tor Baba Ke OT-te niye geche, aadh ghanta lagbe" [Your father has been taken to the OT, it'll take half-an-hour]..
"3000 takar pacemaker boshabe. Kothaye abaar? Bukey bashabe." [A 3000 buck pace-maker will be used. where else? It'll be put in the heart]..
"Tui maa ke niye eyi ghar-a ese shuye por." [You take your mother and sleep in the other room]..

Slowly he walked away after that and was out of my sight. It was pin drop silence out there and I felt asleep. Suddenly, after 30-35 minutes maybe, I jumped up hearing a noise. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was a Cat's Meow. To me it sounded like a Tiger's Roar. I quickly took out my cell phone to capture the cat, but alas:

I missed the cat in the frame and it left "Meow-ing to Glory". I laughed at myself and settled back. I dozed off soon and again after a while I jumped up and looked around for my cell phone. Aah!! I finally spotted it under the chair. It was like finding a gem. Anyway, I thought I should check Uncle again and I visited his ward and found he was sleeping. As I came out, a ward boy (though he is a big man) sitting just besides the door asked me in a harsh tone, "Patient Party?", I said "Yes", "Kato nomber bed? [Which Bed?]", "38", "Hata Chala Korche? Gatokal ratre apni chilen? [Is the patient able to walk? Were you here last night?]". I somehow answered him while walking away, so that he couldn't ask me more, but he continued, "Ki koren? [What do you do?]". I was quite far now but I shouted, "Service" and left. I saw a big smile on his face. I donno why I lied to him, but I did.

Again I was settled. After quite sometime, I woke up, checked Uncle again, also spotted that many patients and their relatives were increasing throughout the night. It went on till the morning. It was 6.30am, when I checked Uncle, he was still asleep and I decided to have a walk. So, I came out of the premises. And here is what I clicked.

The Puppy trying to become friendly, I was a couple of seconds late in clicking. [6.18am]

A Hoarding at Rabindra Sadan Crossing at 6.27am

SSKM Premises at 6.39am

The Newspaper Wallah in front of the Cardiology Dept. Building at 6.43am

The Lift inside the Cardiology Dept. Building at 6.51am

Then I was back to Uncle's ward, made Horlicks for him, chatted for a long long time and left for home. I was back a day later on 28th Feb again for the night.

Harish Mukherjee Road at 8.51pm

Well ya, it was the fastest journey from my residence to the hospital. Following the strike, roads were empty. Aah!! Wish every day it was. Anyway, I was back to Uncle's ward, he was awake, had a chat and I left for my bed (the chair's opposite OT). Strangely, the hospital was empty, hardly patients were their in the corridor and also the relatives were missing, maybe due to the strike, but trust me it was very uncanny. I settled and after sometime I went to the window and clicked this,


Well there was nothing much that night (28th Feb) other than the uncanny silence and a man who came and slept on the opposite chairs. He looked quite irritating and was wearing a sleeveless inner. I asked to myself, is it so hot? It wasn't. And the man switched the fans on. I didn't say a word and tried sleeping. At around 2.30am I felt very cold, woke up to find that there was a strong breeze going on and it was drizzling. Aah, I thanked Ananya (my wife). She had put in a shawl in my bag. What a relief it was. And to my surprize I found that man on the opposite chairs sleeping with a full sweater now and also the fans switched off. Hahaha. I laughed and was back to sleep with the shawl. Well next morning I was up quite early around 5am. I checked my Uncle, he was sleeping. I kept my bag near him, took my camera and left to click some early morning pictures. 

Harish Mukherjee Road at 5.19am

Rabindra Sadan Crossing at 5.24am

The Road-Side Tea Shop at 5.31am

The Crow wants to Hand-Pump..?? 5.34am

5.53am, Harish Mukherjee Road, See the Light..?

Balwant Singh's Eating House at 6.04am

Fresh Vegetables being sold on the road-side, 6.05am

The Man is reading a newspaper sitting on the road, 6.06am

The cab driver at 6.07am. Well, I guess, he is thinking, "whom to refuse today?"

6.11am. On my way back to the hospital found this besides SSKM.

Also spotted this.

Then I was back from my little trip, went to uncle, made him tea, chatted, met the doctor at 10.40am, went mad finding a medicine and finally reached home at 1pm. 

Next I was back to the hospital on 1st March, 2012 at around 10.30pm. Everything was fine that night. Nothing major occured. Next morning as I walked towards the ward, the nurse called me,

"Apni Patient Party? [From Patient's side?]"
"Hyaa [yes]"
"Ratre chilen na? [You were not here at night?]"
"Hyaa, Chilam. [Yes, I was here.]"
"Dekhte payini to? Kothaye chilen? [Didn't see you, where were you?]"
"Odiker bench-a. [On a bench, that side]"
"Patient-er paashe thakben, edike-odike naaye. [You have to stay beside the patient and not here & there]"

I was amazed by such words early in the morning. I entered the ward and my uncle was smiling. He said that did the nurse say something? I nodded as he smiled again. He said last night before I came she had enquired about who is going to stay to which my uncle had said that whoever is supposed to stay, will stay and she need not worry. I was not getting the issue actually. After making tea, I left for outside stroll and clicked again,

Lonely Fella, 5.35am

The Hand-Pulled Rickshaw, 5.51am

After having two cups of coffee I moved back to the premises. Suddenly, I found a man shouting on phone, "Hyaa, arre hyaa, aami 'aap-ka-kalin' er samne dariye aachi, aarey hyaa, bolchi to 'aap-ka-kalin'..". I was amazed as to what was this man referring too? I turned and found,

SSKM, Emergency 

OMG!!! It's aapatkalin (emergency). I laughed and walked on. I went around the premises. There's pond and a spectacular corridor.

After all this I walked back to the ward to have a chat with my uncle. While chatting I discovered why the nurse was so angry. The previous day she shouted at medicines not being bought. Later it was learned that the  slip of 38 number bed went to 58 number bed and hence the confusion. My uncle was so pissed that he complained to the doctor (who is my elder uncle's close friend). The doctor thrashed the nurse and hence all the story. But what was more surprising was that there was another ward boy (quite aged) who used to sit on a chair whole day near the ward door and do nothing. I learned that he has been asking for money from everyone just to buy some alcohol. But no one is giving him and as the other ward boy said that if he doesn't drink, his brains don't work and so doesn't he. And I also learned that he was the culprit of the 38-58 confusion. After a long laugh we concentrated on an old man probably in his late 60's on the opposite bed. He was a charming fellow and the entertainment factor among the 15 patients out their. Having heart related problems and often on oxygen support he daily has his "Jhal-Muris" and "Potato Chips" & others. I learnt that he has a parrot at home and the parrot is not eating because the man is not at home. The man suggested someone on the phone to take the parrot out of it's cage and tell it to eat. I said to myself, "Is the bird deaf?? Will not not hear if said from outside the cage??". Anyway, the birds name was "Sundori [Beautiful]". And after many many such stories, I finally left for home, this time I was carrying the keys. Well, the other day I had forgotten to carry the keys and remembered when I reached my room door. I had to travel 2 hours and get a duplicate key, which was with my wife. To end, I remember a person just next to my Uncle's bed. Whenever he say me, he asked, "there's a pond, that can be seen from the window?", I would say "yes" and he would be happy. That's It For Now.

As of my Uncle, he will be going through a "Heart Stent Operation" on 6th March, 2012.

[[Note: If there are spell errors let me know as I haven't revised]]


  1. It was really marvelous journey........

  2. Reminded me of the Medical College Hospital in Jhansi (UP)... had seen cows on the first floor there... yes, really. Wards of patients from nearby villages cooking food on the ground floor, smoke everywhere, dogs who were concerned than were the doctors... and the strangest was one patient walking with his bottle of IV fluid and his maze of attached tubes held in his own hands!

    Mera Bharat Mahan!

    Arvind Passey

  3. Excellent...I just loved it the way u have written it

  4. Excellent. .I just loved it the way u have written it.

  5. Good depiction of situations...but a bit repetative....