A Lesson in Humility – Professional’s Quote

Other than his hamlet the only place he had ever visited is the weekly "haat" (open air market) near his village to sell the forest products he collected for the whole week.

While we wait for the release of The Professional, here is a lovely piece from a professional I have never met but like many of you, keeps in touch over the Internet. Dr. Ramana is a neuro-surgeon from Vizag and he has this absolutely humbling story to share.

The ghat-road passing through deep jungles on the way from Koraput to Visakhapatnam (Vizag) is dotted with hamlets inhabited by tribal people living in harmony with nature. Medical facilities are not easily available unless they travel to the nearest town – sometimes to a primary health centers through forest paths carrying the sick on a make shift stretcher. Usually the literate among them or patients from small towns who have relatives at Vizag come here for specialized treatment. This is how a family of four landed up at our hospital one night.

The father and mother were holding a thin boy of nineteen years in their rough, weather beaten arms. The younger sister was hiding behind the mother’s sari awed by the hospital’s bright lights. The troubled little group radiated innocence, pain and poverty. The boy was shifted to Neuro ICU immediately. He was unconscious for fifteen days and also malnourished due to vomiting and dehydration. Prior to becoming unconscious he was having headache and fever. The boy was diagnosed as having raised intra-cranial pressure. I called aside the boy’s father and spoke to him in Oriya. I told him that his son needed a CT Scan first and later he may require surgery.

The father asked me to go ahead with the treatment and not to worry about expenses, as he had brought five thousand rupees with him.

The answer grounded me. The expenses could run up to more than ten times the amount! I explained this to the father of the boy. We gave him the other option – of shifting him to the government general hospital for continuing treatment. The family members became annoyed at the suggestion and wept. They did not agree and I had to give up persuading them.

Giving up the persuasion trail, I requested the scan center to do free a CT scan of the brain. The scan confirmed hydrocephalus; a condition that required surgery. He needed a shunt tube to be put from the brain to the abdomen.

The hospital administration obliged to treat the patient in the general ward free of cost.

Doctors donated drugs the boy needed; other patient’s attendants and relatives helped them by giving them food and moral support in spite of language barrier.

The boy was operated upon and he made remarkable fast recovery. Even before a week passed, he was eating by himself and walking around the ward. He started gaining weight.

All these happenings gave me a real “feel good” within and appreciation from others.

But the patient’s father was stone-faced with no expression of happiness nor did he offer thanks. This attitude troubled me throughout their stay in the hospital. On the day of discharge I couldn’t resist asking him if he should be thankful to all us for putting his son back on his feet again and almost free of cost in a modern corporate hospital. He was surprised and asked why should he? The purpose of bringing him here was to have him cured – so why the thanks? If that was not the case, “Why would I have taken all the pains to shift him here?”, he asked me.

Then he told me that he had sold all the land he had for five thousand rupees, and for first time entered an unknown place.Other than his hamlet the only place he had ever visited is the weekly “haat” (open air market) near his village to sell the forest products he collected for the whole week. He wanted to save his child and that alone made him venture into a big city.

The halo around me crumbled.

My contribution did not seem too much compared to what he was doing for his son.

After all this I felt some of the elation leaving me, but I still felt like laughing.

venkatesh Says
Monday September 21st 2009

Heart touching story!

Monday September 21st 2009

First time in this space. My economics professor, a college classmate of Sri Abdul Kalam, sent him a congratulatory message when he became the president of the country (when he had not been in touch with him for many years). He received a prompt response which is something that he cherishes till date as one of his prized possessions. Such humility is rare, but while most management text books don’t quote it, it has been one of the key traits of people who have made it big.

Nitin Says
Monday September 21st 2009

Even as it is laudable that the doctors and their team cared for the boy, we can’t lose the sense of equity and fairness. Unfortunate as this case is, there are hundreds of other patients whose lives are at stake because they are in the government hospital.

Vijay. M Says
Wednesday September 23rd 2009

Wonderful story about the kind of lives people lead in different parts of India.

We can learn a lot from the people we meet in our daily life.


Lubna Says
Wednesday October 7th 2009

It was nice of Dr Ramana and his team and indeed the other patients and their families to help the tribal family. I am glad that Dr Ramana showed us that we should do good deeds without expecting anything in return. The good deed itself is the reward.

Kaajal Dasgupta Says
Sunday November 15th 2009

I am proud of you and wish you all the very best in life!

ashutosh Says
Tuesday April 28th 2015

good story

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