It was a sparkling sunny day when I got a call from my pregnant sister. With her fragile voice I could realise that she was in a profound pain. She told me that a local gynaecologist has advised her to proceed towards Srinagar to regenerate the water level of her uterus, which was reduced from 13cm to 5cm. Leaving everything behind, I rushed to accompany her to Srinagar. By 7:30 evening, we reached the hospital bearing a virtuous name – Laladed. After going through primary tests and scans, the doctors declared that the baby had died few hours ago. The fact strained our bones as her seven months of excitement came to a very sad end. It was challenging to console my grieving sister when I too had my heart swollen in torment.
We were told to get a bed in the labour section, but we couldn’t find any as all the available beds were occupied. To my surprise, most of the single beds were shared by two patients even when the Covid 19 was at its peak. The attendants had to stand by the side of patients with no chair or bench around. I started cursing myself for being a woman to have witnessed a horrible scene of few ladies, dying in pain and lying half unclothed in open corridors, visible to whole medical staff and the attendants. No norm of privacy or courtesy was followed. I was shaken to the core. Helplessly I kept pleading for some space in labour rooms to keep my sister a bit graceful, away from more than 500 pair of eyes. Finally, I carried her to a bed which was already taken by another patient. On my request, the lady with frowned face adjusted her.
From 8 pm to 11 pm nobody came near, except some attendants. At 11:30 she was injected with some drug to induce labour pain. Since then, she was shrieking in pain and I helplessly was looking at her frail face, feeling the sky turning gradually upside down. Whole night she was bleeding and kept howling. The only wish I made to have some supernatural powers to subdue her pain. The shrill cries from other patients scared me more. Meanwhile a lady in pain twisted herself until the infusion cannula system got unpinned and the blood started oozing out. I rushed to approach some sisters to help her; but all of them seemed keen opponents of emotions and sufferers. One of them came with such a harsh tone, inhumanely cursed and humiliated her in front of all. I got puzzled how come they be so rude even when they are being well paid for their services.
Now, it was the dawn of a new day but for those with bruised fate, it was followed by a stormy gale. To our bad luck, in that catalogue of unfortunates we were listed perfectly. At 6:30 morning, the arrival of doctors got announced. All the attendants were pulled out, those elderly ones who were slow to move were dragged out of the building by some horrid security lady. For a while I thought of private hospitals where we pay a good amount of fee and get a respectable treatment for both patients as well as attendants. “Money does melt hearts easily than the cries of a woman” I conclude.
Maintaining decorum is extremely essential but being decent and doing it decently is what is required. At once I felt as if a pound of flesh shed down my body, when a giant watch-woman brutally kicked an elderly lady (attendant) whose only fault was to handover some admit papers to her patient before leaving the labour room. After the completion of doctors’ round, I finally was allowed to meet my sister. When I reached, I saw her in delivery theatre. I waited outside for a dead baby to embrace. The roar of pain coming from her, shivered my spine. Ultimately a withered tulip was withdrawn from her shrivelled womb and placed in my lap. My hands trembled to clasp that delicate body of a heavenly baby boy. I wiped those hot flowing tears and embraced that little guest from paradise.
I rushed to handover the body to his father, who was waiting outside.” Hold” I stammered and cried out loud. Brave, he pretended to be, grasped the corpse firmly; but the death of his dream was quietly reflecting from his pair of scorched eyes. “One should be enough valorous to trudge through the darker aspects of existence” he said.
I stepped back to see my sister. While waiting outside, I could hear her dry throated cries again. Then, a beautiful lady came out wearing a black scarf. I helplessly requested her to brief me if something has gone wrong after her delivery. I couldn’t distinguish whether she was a doctor or a nurse, but surely a swaggering and conceited lady she appeared, who doesn’t bother to answer anything; neglected me and sat on a sofa outside the theatre, kept scrolling her mobile screen. Finally, some sisters came out and discussed the issue, ‘we are failing to do placenta expulsion again and again”. New doctors were going inside, and one of them came out with these scornful words that ‘just move this patient from this place it’s all dirty here’. Besides, she warned sisters not to get the other side of the hall spoiled with her blood. Amazed, I was to see those doctors more concerned about the cleanliness of the hospital and less compassionate to the patient. About 90% of the faculty including those security persons seemed completely sedated and insensible to pain and sentiments, which in turn must be hurting the holy spirit of highly spiritual and literary figure of Kashmir: Laladed, whose name shines over its roof.
Post-surgery, my sister recollected her theatre experience. She said, she was given an injection dosage first and subsequently her admit file was accessed by doctors. In her words ” I could hear them saying that the patient was supposed to undergo breech delivery and the injection given to her was amiss. I even heard them saying that what is done is done and it’s better to keep mum”. I couldn’t believe that how doctors can be so delinquent, treating patients without checking their medical history. I wonder if we could ever make our health services efficient with the present status of our hospitals with no moral and ethical values of medical and supportive staff, less intake capacities, insufficient number of beds and so on. It is the need of the hour to reimagine our health care in government hospitals. It’s even more important for the authorities to incorporate behavioural and social learning in medical staff through workshops to ensure a cordial transaction with patient. Frankly, I am not sure if that mortification, and trauma we faced shall ever fade from my mind. Wish if every district is blessed with a ‘women’s hospital’ for delivery and advanced treatments.
Author is pursuing her bachelors from GDC Bandipora.