Sunday, 15 December 2013

The storm

The wind howled as though ready to gulp all that came in its way. The rain beat mercilessly on the tinned roof of the PHC. Trees lay uprooted all around. Electric lines were snapped. The entire building was surrounded by an eerie darkness. The light from the burning candle placed on the reception desk was the only thing that lent comfort to Sr. Priscilla and Dr. Jaya.

“I hope there’s no emergency case today,” thought Sr. Priscilla. Dr. Sen the Senior Doctor was away on an emergency call in a village 30 kms. away and Dr. Jaya was   young and inexperienced. Not that Sr. Priscilla doubted her ability. No she knew that Dr. Jaya could handle the routine cases but what if something serious came up?  Here up deep in the forests even on normal days the mobiles would fail, leave alone in such a situation. Rains meant total isolation in this remote village. And to top it, it was pitch dark all around.

Dr. Jaya sat in a corner hands folded deep in thought. There was a storm brewing within her. It was hardly a month since she had joined this PHC and this was the first time Dr. Sen was away on a night call. “What if something crops up? What do I do? Who do I look up to for support?” she thought.

A flurry of activity outside sent both Sr. Priscilla and Dr. Jaya running to the door. One look at the sight outside and both felt their blood freeze. Four men drenched to the skin brought in a screaming woman on a 'charpoy.' One look at her and they both knew it was going to be a tough one. The woman was in pain. They got the men to place the lady on a stretcher and wheeled her to the labour room. The men stood outside worry writ large on their faces.

Dr. Jaya examined the patient and knew there was hardly any time. The woman was sinking. The baby was in danger. She had to act. But her leg felt like dumbbells and her hands seemed leaden. She knew she could not handle the case.

Sr. Priscilla looked at Dr. Jaya and what she saw there, worried her too. She knew she had to motivate Dr. Jaya. Push her to act fast. Two lives lay there before them in balance. Each second counted. She moved towards Jaya, took her hand in hers and gently pressing the same said, “Dr. I know you can do it.”  Even while doing so a voice at the back of her mind warned her not to be over confident. Dr. Jaya was raw and inexperienced.

Dr. Jaya looked at Sr. Priscilla and said, “But how? Dr. Sen is not around and I have never handled a case of this sort till now. “

“So what?  There has to be a first sometime. This is that first. Now come on Doctor, you can do it.”

“But what if something goes wrong? The nearest hospital is hundreds of kilometers away and added to that  we are cut off from the rest of the world.”

“Doctor, why worry when it is not you or me who decide this lady’s destiny.  Let us do our duty and leave the rest to the Almighty,” said Sr. Priscilla. She took Dr. Jaya’s hand in hers and gently led her as a mother would a scared daughter, all the while trying to instill confidence in the Doctor.

The screaming had stopped; the lady was slowly slipping into deep slumber. Dr. Jaya and Sr Priscilla knew they could not allow her to do so. Time was racing and they had to race faster. They started on the job. Finally after thirty minutes of tiring, tension filled moments a cry pierced the dim lit labour room signaling the birth of a new life.  Tears welled up in three pairs of eyes together, tears of joy and relief. The remaining procedure completed, Dr. Jaya removed the gloves and placed them on the tray. Heaving a sigh of relief she turned around to find two pairs of bespectacled eyes looking intently at her. There at the door to the labour room stood Dr. Sen drenched from head to toe. He had reached there a few moments back when Dr. Jaya and Sr. Priscilla were busy with the child birth. He knew they were nervous and that he should join them. But then, he wanted Jaya to handle the case all alone. After all, it is moments such as these that test a person’s ability. And then, if the situation warranted he could always step in.

“Thank God you have reached Doctor,”” said Jaya. “Could you please have a look at the patient?”

Dr. Sen readily obliged. Mid way through the examination Sr. Priscilla asked him when he had arrived.

“When the two of you were busy trying to get that lady to stay awake and respond to you instructions.”

“Then why did you not come in and take over doctor?”

“I wanted Jaya to handle it. She had to get over that fear of hers. How long can she lean on another’s shoulder?” asked Dr. Sen.

Hearing the remark Jaya smiled.

The night was over and the first rays of the sun were peeping in heralding a new dawn.

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