The shades of human behavior

Nature has unique ways of defining the destination of human beings. Worldly factors like education, social status or family background do play a role in one’s career. However despite all this, there is a divine power that directs or redirects an individual’s path in life –what some people call luck or destiny.

As a medical doctor, I had the opportunity to study human behavior in different countries including Kashmir, India, the United States and also Saudi Arabia, where I had to deal with different nationalities coming to work from all over the globe. My keen observations have led me to comprehend that humans across the world have the same desires, needs, ambitions and flaws –no matter how much their lifestyles may differ.

In 1965, the drums of war were beating between India and Pakistan, and I was deputed to a maternity hospital in Delhi. It is here were I had to do my required training in midwifery. At that phase in life, you are ambitious, and eager to gain knowledge of more than what one is expected to learn. My peers and I were to be trained under the guidance of highly reputed Indian gynecologists, and the nursing staff from the South was par excellence. Naturally, this small hospital—with just a 50 patient bed capacity—had built a great reputation across New Delhi and people from all walks of life would come in day and night to be treated. After a delivery, the mother and the newborn would go home within a couple of days unless otherwise required.

Within a few days of my stay there, I found nurses taking care of a newborn even when the mother was not around. I also noticed a young sophisticatedly dressed and visibly disturbed gentleman who would come regularly to cuddle the baby.  My inquisitives nature led me to the facts that the baby was the objet d’artof a misadventure between the visiting gentleman and his maid. Despite the fact that the visitor looked like a polished gentleman he was visibly depressed and worried about the future of his genes. Here I was reminded of a story by the French author Guy De Maupassant which I had read while I was a student at Degree College, Anantnag.

OB/Gynecology was my favorite branch of medical science. I started my residency in this field at SMGS Hospital, Jammu in 1967. The winter capital Jammu has an umbilical bond between Dogri and Kashmiri culture. It is a city that always resounds with melodious bells from its temples and its devotees chanting mantras from the Vedasand Bhagawad Gita. The city is also known for its delicious sweet shops.

During my residency in Jammu, I remember a young, female university student who was brought unconscious to the hospital. She had consumed a deadly substance, which shortened her precious life. She passed away within half an hour of being brought in, to the shock of her respectable parents who were attending to her. Ignorant of the consequences, a colleague helped to skip the necessary postmortem otherwise important for a medico legal case to ascertain the cause of death. We then found out the lady was three months pregnant at the time of her death.

From Jammu, I was transferred to the ER of SMHS hospital in Srinagar. I recall one particularly busy evening, when I was surrounded by half a dozen well-dressed ladies, and a gentleman was reciting holy words on a rosary in his right hand. At the time, I was examining a teenager with abdominal cramps. With the limited expertise that I had picked up while working in midwifery at SMGS Jammu, I had to call a senior female colleague to clear my doubts that despite being unmarried my patient was carrying a few months pregnancy. It was an ordeal to resuscitate the police officer father who was hymning on the rosary beads—seemingly ignorant to what was just revealed.

My reckless political activities resulted in my transfer to the tiny District Hospital, Anantnag at Shairbag, which currently accommodates a child and maternity hospital. One fine morning in 1970, a team of vibrant young female doctors at the hospital was shocked to help a widow out of her unwanted pregnancy and it had been the head man (Mukdam) of the village who had lured the destitute in to that awkward situation.

While basking in the summer sun of Pahalgam in the lawns of a small dispensary, I was approached by an American tourist couple. The blonde woman, suspecting a pregnancy, asked for a medical checkup. These were the days of hippie culture in the Western countries. To my surprise, she suddenly burst into tears, wanting to get rid of her unwanted baby because her parents were strict Catholics and the boy—the would-be father—was a Protestant.

Towards the end of 1983, my destiny in search of respectable bread and butter sent me from the lush greens of Pahalgam, Kashmir into the deserts of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Working in a completely alien atmosphere was a novel experience. Despite the fact there was separation between genders mandated by law, the attraction between the sexes was evident. During one of my administrative morning rounds I was asked by an ER doctor there to confirm a pregnancy. This time again, it was of an unmarried teenager who was driven to the hospital by a Bangladeshi driver.

Having shared snippets of my experience, what I intend to highlight here is that we are all humans irrespective of color, cast, creed or race. And as humans, we are susceptible to evil.

Recently security forces have tightened their noose on religious Babas and their Ashrams. Officials found incriminating evidence that these places of otherwise religious activities are being used as clandestine sexual dens. Similar activities were reported in churches in the US and other Western countries, and priests holding the highest offices were accused of shameful acts.

The need is to focus on moral education to curb the increase in sexual assaults, gang rapes and women trafficking in the country.