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Hope triumphs overs darkness
You are not accidental. Existence needs you. Without you something will be missing in existence and nobody can replace it. That’s what gives you dignity, that the whole existence will miss you. -Osho-
Mr. Ramanbhai’s bleak and lonely world had begun to get dimmer. 61 year old Mr. Ramanbhai Solanki from Kathana village near Anand had been living alone since his wife’s demise a few years ago. The couple did not have any children. It was upon him to make his living and manage his daily requirements well into his old age. While earlier he deftly rolled scores of bidis at home with his nimble fingers, his deteriorating vision had now slowed him down considerably. Nevertheless he trudged on by relying more and more on his fingers. He realized he needed help but despite barely making his ends meet, his work was all he had. Seeking eye care was a distant dream for him.
Soon after, his calloused fingers couldn’t help him further and he lost his work. Depression gripped him as he spent his days in the darkness of unemployment and starvation. He soon took to begging for survival. One fine day a distant relative came to know of his condition. He took Mr. Ramanbhai to the free outreach camp conducted by Sankara Eye Hospital, Anand in the nearby Kalu village. He had been suffering from cataract in both his eyes since a long time.
He meekly listened as he was counselled for his treatment, scarcely believing that help was so close at hand. Hours after the cataract surgery in his right eye, as the nurse revealed his dressing to tend to his eye, watching him with a suppressed smile, she saw realization finally dawn on his face. Tears accompanied a tentative smile as his recently treated eye finally sensed light.
He thanked the nurses and the doctor for his unexpected gift of vision as he left for his village the next day. He returned later for his second surgery.
Today he has returned home and resumed his work making bidis. Calm contentment has replaced the darkness as has hope the despair.
Light to the eyes, dignity to their lives
It was nearly nine months ago that 60 year oldKamalbenUmedbhaiDabhibegan to experience blurring in her vision. Day by day the silhouettes of the clothes she helped her tailor husband sew grew fuzzier. Threading needles became a herculean task that brought tears to her eyes.
Hailing from the rustic hamlet of Pithai in Kheda district, Kamalbenwould complete her household chores in the morning and then join her husband who ran a small tailoring shop to make their ends meet. With 2 grown up sons living separately with their families, they only had each other for support.
Ever since her vision began to fail, not only did her daily household activities become difficult, but also did assisting her husband at the shop come to a halt. Private eye care was available at a distance but was way beyond their means.
By happenstance, she heard about a free eye checkup camp by Sankara Eye Hospital, Anand in the nearby village of Kathlal, when the auto rickshaw heralding the camp passed by her shop. Following consultation with some of her neighbours, hope filtered in as she heard about Sankara’s eye care facilities.The visit to the camp boosted her confidence further. There were many men and women like her who came with failing vision. She was diagnosed with cataract in both her eyes. Apprehensions that arose were immediately quelled as the counsellor at the camp explained that she would be taken to the hospital for her surgery and she would be dropped back within 2 days.
She couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the care being given to all patients at the hospital; the food was fresh and warm, beds were made, nurses and guards would guide her at every step of the way.
The next day she had prayers on her lips as she stepped in the operation theatre. Within half an hour with her first surgery successfully performed, half her woes had been taken away. Hours later as the nurse peeled off her bandage to put the drops, the anxiety on Kamalben’s face transformed into a smile. Clear rays of light had entered her right eye after months of distress.
When she came for the surgery of the other eye a month later, she had already resumed going to her tailoring shop.
Morn came and went—and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light
- Lord Byron, Darkness
“I used to make paintbrushes. I like to think of myselfan artist, not an artisan.”
Mr Lekh Pal, 52 years of age, noticed his vision had begun to deteriorate about a year ago when he had difficulty identifying individual bristles on the brushes he made. He began to rely more on the sensation of touch than sight to align the bristles correctly. After a while, the progressive loss of vision could not be compensated by his calloused fingers. He realised he needed help, and soon. This was one year ago.
A trip to the local doctor, and a day’s wages told him that he would need a cataract surgery if he wanted to see clearly again. It would cost him a month’s worth of wages. He had mouths to feed. He could not afford it. But he knew time was running short. Very soon, his vision would deteriorate to a point where he would not be able to work at all. The possibility of being forced onto the streets; hungry and blind, was very real, and imminent.
A couple of months passed. Mr Lekh Pal saved a rupee here and one there and managed to save about half the sum he would need for the surgery. He was hopeful. His vision had worsened, but he hoped, he prayed, that it would not fail him before he had saved the sum he needed.
It was a cold dark foggy winter evening. Mr Lekh Pal was returning from a day of work on his bicycle. He could barely see the road ahead of him. The lights of an oncoming vehicle blinded him because of the scattering of light that his cataract caused. He blinked and squinted to see through the haze, but that moment of vulnerability would cost him dearly. Just as the vehicle passed him, he saw, too late, that an auto rickshaw was parked at the side of the road, directly in his path. He rammed into it violently. Hurt, blind, hungry, he somehow managed to hobble back to his home. He was hurt, and bleeding. He would need to go to a doctor for his wounds. His hopes sunk. He knew that his prospects were bleak, he was extremely unlikely to save enough money before he became completely blind because of the expenses his wounds would entail.
The months dragged on, and darkness came upon Mr Lekh Pal. One day, he was sitting despondently at a tea shop, contemplating his options when he overheard someone speaking of an eye camp a renowned hospital was conducting for the first time in this area. He asked them what it was about but they said they didn’t know exactly. The next day, a man in a rickshaw was announcing details about this camp using loudspeakers.
Mr Lekh Pal was sceptical. Eye camps were notorious for poor standards of medical care. He had heard about patients going blind due to poor medical care to the camp patients who are treated at free of cost. But he had no choice, he admitted to himself. He reached the campsite on the said date. He was surprised to see a fair number of people there. It bolstered his confidence. A bus took him to the hospital in Kanpur. After reaching the hospital he was very surprised to see the place which was of a standard which he would had never been able to afford in his life time. He could smell the cleanliness, his fingers couldn’t find dust on the window sills. The beds were made neatly and the food was fresh, warmand tasty, albeit simple.
After going through a gamut of investigations and tests, he was finally ready for surgery. This was what he had been waiting for, what he had prayed for. He made one last prayer, that the operation be successful and stepped into the Operation Theatre. He came back out in less than half an hour.
In the evening, a nurse came to open his bandage and apply drops. As she gently peeled off the bandage, a ray of light entered his eyes. And then another, and another. He saw the nurse’s face, the hint of a smile twitching at her lips, knowing what this moment meant for him
Mr. Lekh pal has since his surgery taken up employment at a welding shop. There’s a spring in his step and happiness in his eyes.
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