I was Senior Resident and Registrar at Dr R M L Hospital, New Delhi in the 1980s. The official time for duty shift was 09:00 AM but I started the day’s work at 08:00 AM. I used to start by seeing the admitted patients under my unit followed by surgeries. The patient load used to be mammoth, and we had to work really hard.
During my tenure, Delhi witnessed the infamous ‘1984 Anti-Sikh Riots’ which were triggered by the assassination of Indira Gandhi, India’s then Prime Minister, on 31 October 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards in response to her actions authorising the military operation. There were mass casualties everywhere. For about a period of 31 days, all the hospital staff was barred from going home so as to tackle the excessive patient load. One of my very able colleagues, Dr. Ravinder Mohan and I, managed our unit in tandem. This was the phase where I was exposed to all kinds of difficult surgical cases and laid the groundwork of my surgical expertise. Day in and day out we all worked together to save the innumerable patients and give them the best possible medical amenities even in such adverse conditions. I did not get to see my family for almost an entire month despite being in the same city. Life is truly difficult for doctors, full of sacrifices and self-less service to the humanity.
The entire hospital staff was like an extended family. When we used to perform some good cases, we used to celebrate with the nurses and other medical staff over tea and samosas. I made some real good and long lasting relations with staff nurses out there; some of them are Sister Ameena, Sister Sandhya, Sister Usha, Sister Zohra, Sister Manjula, and many more. Even to this day Sister Zohra visits me on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan every year.
I can never forget the case of one my patients, a cloth merchant, whom I treated for bladder injury following a road traffic accident. He presented in Emergency and was to be taken up for surgery immediately. But there was one problem, he had no one to arrange blood for him. Without giving a second thought, I donated blood for him and then took up his case for surgery. It was a very satisfying experience to save this young patient’s life. He is still in touch with me and even to this day he never forgets to show his gratefulness towards me for saving his life that fateful night.
The days were never dull; there was a chutzpah in every moment. There was so much to learn from life, which was pacing at an aggressive momentum to load us with the fundamental values of this profession. As time passed by, I became quite popular at the hospital. Those times were so lustrous, so spirited that memories still lie fresh in my mind.