If visit to a mountain or the bank of a river is a visit to heaven visit to a hospital is one to hell. When I was a child my mother showed me a chart in which the sinners were being punished in different ways in hell. When I visited the medical college hospital to see one of my relatives who was in the Emergency Ward it seemed I was also admitted to the Hell as Yudhishthira was.

The Emergency Ward is more or less casualty ward. People cry out of pain. Most of the patients are first admitted to this ward. The number of patients is generally more than the facilities available. I found my relative lying on a bench as no bed was available. He was to be operated for appendicitis next morning. The doctors were trying their best to give him comfort by that time. At last they administered drugs to let him sleep.

I got some breathing time to visit other wards stealthily. At every corner I would meet a doctor dangling his stethoscope from side to side. The first ward I visited was Orthopedic Ward. It was a pitiable scene. Almost all the patients were in plaster or plaster chassis. The part covered with plaster could not move. Many were not allowed to move at all. Some had their feet stuck to and chained with hangers fixed to their beds. I just withdrew with a heavy heart.

The Surgical ward was equally horrible. The patients were lying with bandages. A case of open heart surgery was also done that day but the patient was in Intensive Care Unit. I could not see him. There seemed a serious case in a corner. Half a dozen nurses rushed to the patient. Resident Doctor was called. But none could help the patient. He breathed his last. It was rather too much for me. I did not have the courage to see the Medicine Ward and the Pediatrics Ward where death hovered like an evil bird.

It was time to go home for I had to come again next morning. In all this gloomy atmosphere there was something I liked the most – the dangling stethoscope. I just wished if I too be one of these noble souls devoted to the ill and the poor.