My Last Prescription
My Last Prescription11 mins 25.1K 11 mins 25.1K
The man who sat in front of Dr Sumeet Dagar was no common man, at least not for him or for thousands of patients of Cuttack city twenty-five years before. Dr Sumeet was the final year student of his postgraduate degree in the department of medicine in that year when Dr Raghav Mishra was the professor and head of the department of medicines in the SCB Medical College & hospital in the city of Cuttack. Dr Mishra was perhaps the most popular doctor not only of the hospital but also of the whole city. He was not only a fine doctor but also a real philanthropist who treated patients free of cost at his residence or his charitable clinic in the outskirt of the city. Dr Sumeet could easily remember the day when several patients went back home without consulting any other doctor in the hospital because Dr Mishra was absent on that day due to some personal reasons. The people of the city and also many from the remote villages had so much faith on Dr Mishra that they believed once Dr Mishra would fail in his attempts to cure a patient none other could. And the patient was bound to die. When Dr Sumeet joined the Medical College the very next year as a lecturer in the department of medicines, Dr Mishra got retired in the last month of the year after 35 years of distinguished service. As Dr Sumeet was his most favourite student on the concluding day of his service asked Dr Raghavan, " Sir, what are you going to do in the coming years? You have been so busy throughout your career that you never got a chance to marry. Now how will you spend the rest of your life without anyone giving you company?" Dr Mishra cooly said, " look Sumeet, I have no family but perhaps the highest number of friends in the city. They all come to have a chat whenever they have time and I am free. Now I am completely free. So, they can come to my clinic or to my residence when we will have long chats."
Since that day Dr Sumeet didn't have the opportunity to meet his teacher, mentor and idol even once because of his heavy workload in the medical college and also due to a family dispute which took him to his village in Bihar every now and then. The family dispute over some landed property which was jointly owned by all his family members of 21 people kept on stretching for the last 15 years and Dr Sumeet being a party to it couldn't get any respite yet. His wife and two children also shared some of his time every day. Therefore, he couldn't meet Dr Raghab Mishra in the last few years despite having a strong intention of meeting him.
Today the man himself has come to meet him after so many years. Dr Mishra, now almost 80 years old has become completely bald and many wrinkles have already disfigured the handsome face to a large extent. He was stooping forward while he walked despite his walking stick giving him good support. Dr Sumeet was over the moon when his idol, his favourite teacher came to meet him in his chamber. The old man came with a prior appointment and waited for quite a long time when he was allowed to enter inside. The attendant didn't know the great man and kept him waiting till Dr Sumeet was free to attend the next patient. Dr Sumeet immediately recognised Dr Mishra when he was ushered in by the attendant who was polite enough to assist the old man. Dr Sumeet was so excited that he asked everyone to leave his room so that he could talk to his idol. He immediately ordered a bottle of orange juice for the old man. Orange juice was Dr Mishra's favourite beverage all along wherever he used to go. Dr Sumeet accompanied his teacher on several occasions to various seminars, meetings and conferences during his 3-year tenure as a student of his post-graduation degree. He remembered a number of beautiful moments that he spent with the old man and on each occasion, he got the privilege of learning many professional lessons from his mentor.
However, Dr Mishra sat quietly while his ex-student tried to serve him with whatever he had in his chamber. After finishing his little treat DrSumeet asked the old man why he did not send a messenger to him to meet the old man at his residence and why he came all the way to meet him. Dr Mishra with a little pause slowly said, " look, son, I have been suffering from an infection in my respiratory tract for more than a week. I took some medicines that were prescribed during my times like Amoxycillin 500 caps and then a full course of Azithromycin 500 but the drugs have not been effective yet to treat the URTI so far. I have to come to you for some more medical check-ups. I have become quite old now. I have been affected with dementia of late, therefore forgetting a lot of things. Two months before I fell from a stair and suffered a few bruises and tears in several parts of my body. I think I have some effects of Parkinson's disease as well. I find my hands are trembling whenever I am trying to pick up a book or a glass of water. Son, I wish you do whatever is needful. You know I have no family and no one to take care of me at the time of some urgent needs. Some neighbours keep coming every day to offer a glass of milk or a bunch of bananas but on most occasions, I refuse to accept their gratitude because I know I can't reciprocate. I have enough money to manage my expenses but I don't have anyone to help me throughout the day. One young man and an elderly lady do come to fetch goods from the market and to prepare my food respectively. But they don't stay long enough alongside me. I tried for a man who would spend twenty-four hours with me. But I couldn't find a man yet. don't want to live for a long time since I have become completely useless for society and no more in a condition to contribute in any manner to anyone. But as long as I am alive I want to spend time without much pain or strain. So son, please help me out."
Dr Sumeet listened carefully to each word from the great man without disrupting his speech even once. When the old man finally stopped and looked at him with tearful eyes Dr Sumeet understood that his teacher was under a lot of strain. Without wasting further time he promptly arranged all the tests and medical examinations. Then when they waited for the reports Dr Sumeet said, " Sir, why don't you come and stay with my family? My wife and my two children would be so happy to see you, to talk to you and to serve you. " Then he again said, " how have you come this far from your residence to the medical college? Is there anyone who has been accompanying you?" The old man calmly said, " I came in a rickshaw and go back in a rickshaw. I have come alone and go back alone. No one will accompany me. So far, I have been living alone and now in the last few days of my life don't want to be separated from my place and belongings. I have already prepared my will and my lawyer has the signed copy with him. The day I quit this world the lawyer would read out the details in a public meeting. For my funeral also I have given a sufficient amount of money to a bunch of young men in the neighbourhood and they would do whatever would be suitable to them. I want to donate most of my organs to the medical college and if you can arrange the formalities then I will be thankful to you."
Dr Sumeet couldn't control his emotions any further. Tears rolled down his cheeks incessantly. He wanted to say many things but words didn't come out of his mouth. He was thinking of the days of the past when this old man was the moving Harrison of the entire medical college. And now so helpless, so feeble and so childlike. However, he could notice one thing unusual. Dr Mishra was unable to see clearly from a distance. How could he come such a long distance of 15 km alone and that too in a rickshaw? He was occupied in his thoughts when his attendant came with all the reports. Dr Sumeet was struck with amazement. His teacher has been affected with the Coronavirus. But he has no clinical symptoms, no fever, no body aches, no cough, no sneezing almost nothing. So how could the old man get the infections when he hardly meets anyone outside his two domestic helpers? How could such an old man be so asymptomatic with such diminished immunity? What would happen to his idol? Numerous questions kept tormenting his mind. He started to write a prescription.
Dr Sumeet accompanied the old man up to his waiting rickshaw. He touched the old man's feet and requested him to keep a safe distance from the two people who come for his help and asked him to send a messenger in case of any urgent need. The old man blessed his ex-pupil and left on his hired rickshaw. Dr Sumeet went back to his chambers wiping the tears from his cheeks. As soon as he entered his room he received a call on his mobile phone and left immediately without saying a word to anyone.
Two days later, the hospital authorities received a faxed message that Dr Sumeet's father was brutally murdered in a family dispute. He may join after 10 to 12 days after the funeral rites are over. Dr Sumeet in the meantime forgot his teacher for quite a few days. On the 15th day of his father's shocking death, he came back from Bihar. On his way back he remembered his teacher for the first time in the last fortnight.
On his arrival in the medical college he, first of all, called his attendant and asked him whether there was any message or any messenger with the news about his ex-teacher. The attendant said, " the same old man has been coming to meet you, sir, for last two days. He is expected any moment sir as he has promised to come today." Dr Sumeet waited impatiently for the next couple of hours. But no one turned up. He was having no patients, no visitors on that day. So he immediately wanted to go to Dr Mishra's residence and find out the latest details about his teacher. He enquired Dr Mishra's address from one of his staff and straightway headed for Pratapnagari, the place where the old man lived. He drove his car as fast as he could to reach there as soon as possible.
15 minutes later he was standing in front of a dilapidated building with its gates closed from outside. A young man was guarding the house. Dr Sumeet said to him, " can you tell me whether this is the house of Dr Raghab Mishra or not? " The young man replied in an indifferent manner, " yes sir, this was his residence as long as he was alive. Since he passed away about 25 days before, this property has been handed over to the local people which they can use for their community meetings and get together's. Now no one lives here."
Dr Sumeet drove back. On the way, his mind raced back to that day when the old man came to meet him 15 days before he left for Bihar. If the old man had died 25 days before then who came to meet him on that day. He again remembered the last prescription he had written on that day and handed over to his idol. He was at his wits end. He hurried into his chamber and looked for something. In one corner two loose paper sheets we're lying. The room was unused since the day he met Dr Mishra. So the papers were still there. He picked them and looked at them. One was his prescription and the other was a letter. The letter had only 5 lines and in the bottom was a familiar signature of the good old days. He started reading. " Dear son, I wanted to meet you, hug you so many times but somehow failed to do so. I loved you as if you were my own son. I wished that you set fire to my funeral pyre as my foster son. But that wasn't to be. Remain happy and serve the people. God bless you, my child. Raghab Mishra.
Dr Sumeet kept the letter in his shirt pocket. Typed a neatly written resignation letter and left it on his table and left in a hurry. Tears were rolling down his cheeks as he was thinking about the old man and the last prescription he wrote.