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Thursday, August 2, 2007

COLLATERAL DAMAGE


A surgeon friend of mine tells me a story.
A young 13-year-old girl is being evaluated for a disease no one is able to catch. The clinically astute doc ordered a special x-ray test (the name of which is immaterial) that ultimately clinched the diagnosis and spared her a major surgery. You can well imagine how relieved and grateful the parents would have been. One can imagine these people sending sweets to the doc’s house on Diwali, and expect him to attend the girl’s marriage in the future.
This story, unfortunately, did not quite go along these lines. The twist in the story came in the x-ray room. During the procedure, the x-ray technician fondled the breasts of the young, innocent girl. She asked him why he was doing so. ‘Just adjusting your clothes’ for the x-ray, said the technician. After the procedure, the kid cried out to her mother, who hushed her up (afraid of a scandal), and only much later told the surgeon what had happened. My friend was deeply, deeply offended. "How dare the swine?" he asked the CEO of the hospital. The CEO promised immediate action. The action was not dismissal, for that could cause problems with the Workers’ Union. No, a three-member committee was appointed to investigate the incident. In the meanwhile, the patient (and her parents) went back home, and soon became well with the medicines prescribed by the surgeon. As the days went by, they chose to forget the unpleasantness. They decided never to go to the hospital again. Courtesy their family doctor, they got another surgeon later. Embarrassment avoided.
Our surgeon got busy again with his patients, but still called up the CEO: “What happened to that technician? Why hasn’t he been sacked?”
Now, the technician had genuflexed to the Committee, saying he had a pregnant wife and a small baby, and that “I can’t afford to lose this job, as I am a poor man”. It was obvious to the Committee that sexually deprived as he was, he just succumbed to some "momentary weakness". The hospital was facing a shortage of trained hands capable of doing certain procedures, and the Committee members agreed within themselves that he wasn’t easy to replace. On top of that, bad press was inevitable should the thing get out. They therefore pronounced the whole thing as a mistake and a misunderstanding, and reassured the parents in writing that “strong action” was “being contemplated”.
Bullshitting over, the world carried on with its business. Only the victim of the pressure-cooked male lust, that little girl, remembered it all. She became a timid woman. She lacked normal responsiveness to men. We don’t know what became of her. Another lost nonentity, another collaterally injured victim of sub-human control, of mindless androgenic aggression. And so much more.

2 comments:

Mahendra said...

Thanks for sharing. This is extremely sad. Are we really short of technicians of the caliber of operating x-ray machines?

Should the parents give it up?

This is another example of journalistic blogging, about which I recently wrote.

Your writing is also very moving. This really touched me.

prerna said...

Thanks for sharing this.Very very touching.As a parent and a woman I can understand the compulsions of the parents.