© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

2 AM, about 20 years ago. Civil Hospital Casualty Nanded.
World asleep.
In came rushing a crowded jeep. Panicked passengers carried someone in a blood soaked bedsheet. Huge bearded man in 40s. Heavy bodybuilder. White kurta pajama now blood red. Hacked by many with mashetes (kukri), swords, knives. From head to toe.
Innumerable cuts. Breathing fast, shallow. Eyes open, looking at us, whenever fluctuating consciousness allowed. They had an expression without pleading or pain. He knew what was coming. Probably a combination of hope and gratefulness. He couldn’t talk.
He was a sarpanch (head) of a nearby village, known criminal, rapist, murderer and was thus punished by the villagers whom he had offended. His cousin accompanying him told us. Remaining people left as fast as they came. In a patient cut at over a hundred places, but still alive, where does one start? No ICU. OT not functional. Nearest big city Hyderabad, 8 hours away. No blood donors. We ran around, but the inevitable kept torturing us all its life.
In about 20 minutes he died.
Those eyes with an expression I can’t name lived on in my mind.
A known gangster, age 19, admitted critical, stabbed by a rival gang leader. They’d had a fight over a girl. The murder was planned months ahead, the knife used was said to be coated with some chemical / herb known to be a sureshot killer. The threat of this “planned murder” had already circulated in some groups. His statement was recorded by police.
As I started the blood transfusion (an intern’s job), awaiting him to be shifted for emergency surgery, he whispered to me, barely managing these words: “Please save me Doctor. That girl was mine. I must kill him. Please save me, I will give you anything you want. But I want to kill him”.
“Calm down. Take slow, deep breath. We will try best, we have started the medicines, you’ll be ok.” I reassured best I could. He held my hand and squeezed it. “I love her, doctor. Save me. I cannot die with this feeling. She was mine. I want to take revenge”.

The poison worked early. He sank even before he could be shifted to the OT.
His last words of revenge lived on in my mind.
“What do you do?” asked my lecturer to this shackled prisoner in infectious ward, admitted for cholera. Scars were his face.
“I am a sharp shooter. Supari murderer (contract killer)”. He was in his twenties. He had no expression upon his face.

I was always idealistic. He was my age. Late that night, after all work, I went to him. He was sitting blankly with his guard from prison, who read a news paper.
“Where are your parents?” I asked this patient.
After a pause, he answered: “My father was also in this line. He’s dead. I took revenge for him, then started this job”.
“And your mother?”
“Why do you ask all this? When will I be discharged?”.
“In two days” I answered, and asked again pleadingly, somehow I was curious about his mother.
“She killed my father to run away with her lover. I killed that lover. She is in another jail.”
There still was no expression on his face.
“Can I smoke a cigarette?” He asked me.
“Not here”. I told him, and winked at the guard, who took out his bidi (country cigarette) bundle.
I offered him our ward tea, and just sat there.

He appeared a bit relaxed. “I have a little sister in my state, 12 years old, in a boarding school. I want her to become a doctor like you”.
“She will” I said, happy not knowing why! “I am sure you will help her”.
It was then that he looked at the sky and smiled a smile that tore through chains of shame, guilt, agony and helplessness.
“Today was her birthday” he said, and then he looked at me.

That face again had no expression, but it made burning scars upon my mind.
Based upon real experiences.
© Dr. Rajas Deshpande

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