Cat in the Ward

We care for both humans and animals alike, something unheard of elsewhere in the world!



“khuda bacheven hasptal vanav nish” (May God save us from hospitals!). I have been hearing this prayer since my childhood. My mother would say it five times a day, yet she had to be hospitalized. My father said it so many times, still he got admitted in infirmaries several times and breathed his last in a hospital. Seeking Allah’s refuge from infirmaries is not bad, but we must know that diseases and hospitals are part of our life. It is not patients alone who go to the infirmaries. Attendants and visitors throng hospitals as if they are in a hill station or on a picnic. The former had the reason to be there, but the latter are there for fulfilling a social obligation. No issues at all! But, the way visitors throng hospitals, especially on off-days and in the evenings, it is just mind-boggling. What solace or comfort do they bring to the patient?  Talking, talking and talking!
My recent visit to an old prestigious hospital was an experience in itself. Through loud speakers, an announcement is made for attendants and visitors to leave the wards so that floors are mopped and cleaned for doctors to do the round. It takes up to around 1 pm and after that you see no doctors or the sweeper.  What intrigued me most was a lonely cat roaming around the ward, ostensibly oblivious of what ailments the ward patients were suffering from. My curiosity did not stop me from taking few photos. On seeing this lonely cat, I was immediately reminded of Ernest Hemingway’s famous short story, “Cat in the Rain”, which I had read long time back. Well, Hemingway’s cat was trying to save itself from getting drenched in the rain and the American wife wanted to have it for fun, or stroking her bun at the back of her head. But, what was this cat trying to save itself from and who wanted it as a fun? Actually, men were shooing it away and women jumping in fright as if the cat would pounce on them. Hemingway’s cat disappeared when the American wife went to get it, but my cat continued to prowl and purr around, taking the entire ward as its own fiefdom.
Since the cat was coming again and again, in spite of shooing, I thought that it must have developed a great love for this hospital. What would it eat outside? Nothing more than bare bones that people leave after enjoying meals. In the hospital, the cat must be aware that Kashmiris love to take dishes to hospitals in the same manner in which they take mughalai tiffins to picnics. So, here it was merry-making and feeding itself on the leftovers, free of cost. I had imagined that this cat was the lone merry-maker in the ward when, to my surprise, I saw its other inmates in the corridor of the hospital waiting for ‘picnic-makers’ to throw a bite to it, or, if they don’t do so, snatch it as a matter of right. I therefore, decided to use my mobile and take their ‘family’ photograph. But, my lone cat continues to visit the ward where I am also a regular visitor. My visit to the hospital is for attending on my ailing relative but my cat’s visit is more ‘noble’. It has replaced the doctor who is supposed to take care of the patients throughout the day which, of course, you can’t find after the morning ‘round’. Why talk of doctors alone? You can’t even get a ‘sister’ to give necessary care to the inmates. And, if you find one by chance, she would give a huge yell before coming to your rescue of taking out a needle or stopping a drip.
The so-called resident was another mystery that I had to face with. The room-door has interesting ‘inscriptions’ as you will find in the photograph. There is a business notice and the number of the unit to which this room belongs. But, my eyes straight away caught the notice which is encircled in the photograph and that reads: “ITZ CATS ROOM, PLZ DON’T DISTURB”. I thought that the hospital was doing a yeoman’s work: taking care on humans and animals alike! Something unheard of in the world! Now, I could understand why ‘my’ cat was visiting the ward again and again. Since ‘their’ room was close to the ward, how could it ignore the ward inmates when human care was not available? Bravo! I think, the Health Minister should take cue from this hospital and issue orders that other hospitals must invite cats to take charge of the health care. This would save him from unnecessarily issuing empty warnings to medicos. He would feel relieved that at least ‘somebody’ is there in the hospital to see whether human patients are living or dying. Of course, he won’t get the report on deaths, but surely those who, by chance, come out living, will say this prayer for future: “khodaya yemi hospital vana nish najaat” (My God save us from this hospital!).

Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 30 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 1 May 2013 00:00:00 IST

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