final words

business of healthcare


1/6/20230 min read

It was a cool pleasant day. The year was 2000, and maybe it was March. Or, was it April? All India results were out and I had secured a good enough rank after failing to secure one the previous year. Parents were elated and so was the whole extended family, as I was the first ever in the family who was going to be a doctor. It's a huge deal back home.

My paternal grandfather was struggling to express his happiness. A few weeks back, he had suffered the Wallenberg syndrome (stroke secondary to infarction of the posterior inferior cerebellar artery territory). He had pulled out his nasogastric feeding tube the same day morning and was having trouble swallowing his secretions. Additionally, he was having trouble identifying me from my dad. It was from the stroke, I thought. With great difficulty, he managed to express his happiness. He said to me, ‘I am so glad that your son is going to be a doctor’. Obviously, he was still mistaking me for my dad. Sitting by his side, my dad was having mixed emotions.

The day went by, with more and more relatives visiting to express their happiness on my results. We were scheduled to go to my mom’s place that evening. We had packed and were waiting for our car. It was a 3 hours’ car ride from my dad’s place to my mom’s. As we were waiting, I was looking deep into my grandfather’s eyes. He was looking at me too. His gaze was piercing. He had mistaken me for my dad the few days that we were there to visit him. What was he staring at me for? Why this long?

I went near him, as our cab just pulled up. My father started loading our luggages. I was not sure if I would get another chance to see my grandfather alive again. I didn’t know how busy medical school was going to be. I went near him. He continued his deep stare into my eyes and was struggling to get some words out. He said, 'you did good after your failure last year. You learnt from your failure and have successfully secured a medical school position. I am sure your dad is very proud as I am'. He now was talking to me with full awareness that it was me and not my dad!

Never do a business out of these things to make your living: women, education, food... and, he said one more, swallowing his secretions, and one more, he said. I wanted to hear his ‘one more’ before saying my final goodbye. One more he said, was HEALTH!

He actually put healthcare business, food business, education business in the same boat as prostitution! That one more, from him to me, were his final words.