Doctor11 mins 23.9K 11 mins 23.9K
30th December, 2019.
Today our new paying guest arrived. She's Anjali, a fresh MBBS who has recently joined NRS Medical College for doing her MD. Her father Dr Mitra is a veteran cardiologist from Siliguri. Ten years back he lost his wife in an accident. Anjali is their only daughter. This would be her first experience of living alone, that too in a new city. Before leaving Dr Mitra requested me to look after his daughter. I happily agreed. Who would not like a soft-spoken, sweet girl like Anjali? I guess she is of the same age as my daughter Payel. Who knows, maybe with time the two will become good friends.
29th January 2020.
It was a hectic day for me. Like every year we celebrated Saraswati Puja in our house. Payel invited a number of her friends and colleagues and remained busy with them throughout the day. Thank God Anjali was there to help me out. She took a day off from the hospital just to give me a hand in the puja preparations.
As I had anticipated, Anjali and Payel hit it off right from day one. They chat whenever they get time. The two even went to see a movie last Sunday. Payel has always craved for a sister. Now it seems that she has found a sister in Anjali.
14th February 2020.
Payel is very excited today. This Valentine's Day has proved to be very lucky for her. Her office is sending her and a few other software engineers to the US for six months to get a special training. This training, she said, would help her further her career. She was glowing with happiness when her boyfriend (and my future son-in-law) Kaustav came to pick her up in the evening in his new car. Wonder if Anjali too has a boyfriend. It's unlikely because she hardly gets any time after her duty hours in the hospital. That girl needs some free time for herself. Imagine a pretty, young girl like Anjali spending Valentine's Day in a melancholy hospital with her patients! I need to talk to her about this.
8th March, 2020.
It seems Holi is going to be drab and colourless this year. Payel's US trip got cancelled due to the out break of some viral infection there. People call it the 'China virus' because the out break first started in Wuhan district of China and is now spreading like wild fire to different parts of the world.
Payel is disgusted about the entire thing. She says that people are unreasonably getting paranoid about this silly Carona or Kareena or whatever it is! Its just a type of flu, nothing else. The poor girl is walking around the house with a long face.
But Anjali hasn't taken the virus so lightly. She said that WHO may declare the disease as a pandemic. She also said that travelling and attending social gatherings is very risky now. I feel so confused at times. Social media is full of different types of news. I don't know what to believe and what not.
14th March, 2020.
The novel Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic by WHO. Still Payel refuses to take it seriously. Today she has gone to Darjeeling with her friends to spend a weeklong holiday there. Her father, Anjali and I repeatedly asked her to cancel the trip but she refused to listen. I think that the cancellation of the US trip has made her more obstinate.
Anjali mostly remains busy at the hospital and never returns home before 10 pm. She is worried about her father and has asked him to remain indoors till the pandemic comes under control. She has also applied for a job in Siliguri Govt Hospital to be near her father. Though I really like Anjali, but right now I would be relieved if she returns to Siliguri. She spends too many hours in the hospital and has become a potential danger to this house. Thankfully Kolkata is still Covid free, but for how long? The lethal virus is creating havoc all over the world. Thousands have already died in China.
Thousands are getting infected in Europe and the US. Countries are closing their borders to prevent the entry of infected persons. Many NRIs are returning to India and I'm sure that most of them are careers of the virus. I fail to understand why our govt is allowing them to enter now. I hope Kolkata, rather, West Bengal remains Covid free till Payel's return.
19th March, 2020.
Kolkata is no longer Covid free. The son of a govt officer imported the virus from Europe. The spoilt brat refused to undergo a medical test at the airport. He moved about freely for the next forty eight hours only to be later diagnosed with Covid 19 infection. I shiver to think how many persons he has infected during these two days.
Payel called us from Darjeeling today. She sounded worried as Coronavirus is proving fatal for the senior citizens. She has reason to worry as both of us are in our sixties.
20th March, 2020
Last night Anjali returned at 2 am. My husband refused to open the door and asked her to go elsewhere. We felt bad, but under the present circumstances it was more important to think about our own safety. Anjali, who must have been dog tired after a hectic day's work, repeatedly urged us to let her stay for the night. She promised that she'd leave in the morning but we could not take the risk. There's no guarantee that she herself is not infected by the Covid 19 virus. I know what we did was not right but we were helpless. If we caught the infection at this age we would surely die. We switched off the lights and our mobile phones and tried to sleep... but sleep wouldn't come. My conscience troubled me, but I forcefully subdued my guilt feelings.
I don't know what Anjali did at that unearthly hour, but when we woke up in the morning she was gone.
I expected to get her call asking for her belongings but that did not happen. Instead, an attendant turned up from the hospital to collect her things. From him, I learnt that a senior doctor had come to pick her up last night.
I feel bad that our sweet relationship ended in such a bitter way. I was really fond of Anjali. She had been such a sweet girl. Only if she was not a doctor!
Anyway, today I must ask the maid to thoroughly disinfect her room. The way the virus is spreading, I'm thinking of discontinuing the maid as well for the time being.
22nd March, 2020.
Today is one of the worst days of my life. I don't know if I'll be able to put down everything rationally. Payel's friend Aindrila called me this morning. She said that yesterday they (Payel and her friends) came down from Darjeeling and lodged in a hotel at Siliguri. Payel was suffering from cough and cold and was also running with high temperature. Her friends became paranoid thinking that she is infected by Covid 19. Instead of taking her to a doctor, they deserted her leaving her alone in the hotel room. I am shocked by their selfishness. How can people be so inhuman?
I immediately called Payel but her mobile was switched off. I searched in the net and rang up the hotel but the number was unreachable. I burst into tears and told my husband everything. He said that we should avail the earliest flight to Siliguri and bring back Payel as soon as possible. But then realisation hit us like a thunderbolt. No transportation would be available for the next twenty four hours. Today was the day of Janata Curfew!
I have never felt so helpless in my life. We know not a soul in Siliguri and that makes matters worse. My heart bleeds to think that my poor girl is suffering all alone in a friendless city with no one to help her. We repeatedly called her but her mobile was always switched off. We tried to call Aindrila but she never received our calls.
Thankfully the net is still working. My husband has booked two flight tickets to Bagdogra for tomorrow morning. There is nothing more we can do other than wait and pray.
Luckily Payel's phone got connected this evening. I was surprised to hear an unknown female voice answering my call. Upon asking I learnt that she was Minati, a nurse working at Siliguri Govt Hospital. She said that Payel has been admitted to the hospital this morning. She has been tested Covid positive and is now kept into isolation. Police is looking for her friends who are suspected to be potential carriers of the virus.
The news, though not unexpected, shocked us. Even Minati's assurance that 'the doctors are doing their best and everything is under control' did not ease our tension. I have completed packing our travel bags and am now impatiently waiting for the night to get over.
23rd March, 2020.
To our extreme annoyance, the flight got delayed by an hour. Anyway, after reaching Siliguri we immediately headed for the Govt Hospital. But we were not allowed to go anywhere near Payel. We could only see her through the glass window of the isolation ward. The doctor who was treating her was not available at that time. The nurse said that she was responding to medicine.
We booked a room in a hotel close to the hospital. This was to be our home till Payel's recovery. After lunch I called her and to my relief she received the call. I can't express how happy I felt to hear her voice. I asked her who admitted her to the hospital. Her answer really shocked me.
Payel tried calling us in our mobiles after her so-called friends deserted her, but could not connect with any of them. She even tried to contact her fair-weather friends but they had already blocked her number. Then she called Anjali, not knowing that she has been thrown out of our house. Hence she was a bit surprised when Anjali disconnected her call. Payel concluded that she must be busy with her patients. She waited for half an hour and then called again. This time she received the call. Payel did not know why, but at first Anjali sounded pretty cold. But her attitude changed the moment she learnt about Payel's condition. She immediately arranged for an ambulance to pick her up from the hotel and bring her to the hospital. It was Anjali who admitted her there and it is she who is looking after her treatment now. Payel asked her what she was doing in Siliguri now. In reply she said that she has joined Siliguri Govt Hospital to be near her father and would later return to Kolkata to complete her MD. She disclosed nothing about the inhuman way we have treated her.
I hung my head in shame and remorse. So did my husband after he knew everything. Of all people, Dr Anjali Mitra is now fighting to save our only daughter from the clutches of death. The same Anjali, whom I threw out of my house because she's a doctor. If this is not irony of fate, then what is?
I don't know if I can ever face that girl. I have no right to criticise Payel's friends because I am no better than they are. In fact I'm even worse. I promised to Dr Mitra to look after his motherless girl. Nice way I kept that promise! Mother, am I? Shame on me!
24th March, 2020.
We're now trapped into a 21-day lockdown. We were worried that the hotel might decide to close business for three weeks and ask the boarders to vacate their rooms. But thankfully they did not do so. They stopped taking new boarders but allowed the existing ones to remain in their rooms.
Since last night Payel's condition has deteriorated. She is now having trouble with her breathing. Her temperature has also not come down yet. We are extremely worried about her. Today also we couldn't have a talk with Anjali. Maybe she doesn't want to see us and I can't really blame her for that. But we met her father Dr Mitra. From his cordial behaviour it was apparent that he knows nothing about our shameful deed. He said that Payel's youthfulness and vitality will surely help her to fight with the disease.
31st March, 2020
The past week had been a nightmare to us. Payel's condition worsened so much that even the doctors lost all hope for her survival. But Anjali refused to give up. She stayed by her side day and night ignoring the risk she herself was getting exposed to. Her efforts are yielding results now. Payel is now improving and responding to medicines. This morning Anjali said that her worst period is now over. I clasped her hands and drenched them with my tears of remorse. She understood and patted my hand.
Once I had wished Anjali was not a doctor. Now I thank my lucky stars that she is!
14th April, 2020.
Payel has been discharged from the hospital today. The credit for her miraculous recovery undoubtedly goes to Anjali. I am thankful to god that the girl herself didn't get infected by the lethal virus. We need doctors like her who risk their own lives to save others.
I'm sure that with the likes of Dr Anjali Mitra around us, the world will soon win the war against Coronavirus and become Covid-free. May god bless us all.
"We shall overcome someday,
Deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome some day."