©Dr. Digbijoy Choudhury
(Edited by Dr. Debarati Mukherjee)
The familiar sound greeted Santosh, as he started his morning walk. He didn't need to turn around to see who it was, up and about, at this early hour.
He smiled and waved as the cyclist passed him.
Dr. Bimal, smiled back, his usual wide smile, which could brighten up anyone's day.
"How are you, Santosh? Good to see you exercising so early. Please continue. Nothing can be better than exercising early in the morning", said the doc.
"Yes, doc. I'm following your advice to the T. I'm already feeling better these last few days. Thanks for everything", Santosh expressed his gratitude. "Dont worry about it, Santosh. See you soon". Dr. Bimal waved bye to him and went on his way.
"Must be on his way to see a patient", thought Santosh, looking at the doctor, cycling through the muddy road, with his big bag on his back and stethoscope around his neck. He felt more energetic now, after talking to the doc, his positive energy rubbing off on him too.
You could always spot Dr. Bimal, cycling on his way to see patients in their homes around here, whether it was early in the morning, or late at night. He never said no to a patient.
"I love the cycling, it keeps me healthy", he would say, if you happened to ask him if he ever got tired. But Santosh knew it was his love for his patients which got him going. The villagers, in turn, loved and revered him too. Whatever it was, some health issue or some domestic problem, Dr. Bimal's advice was sought at first and accepted by one and all, without any complaint.
He thought of the help he had received from the humble and ever helpful doc, a few days before.
If it had not been for Dr. Bimal....thought Santosh..who knows what would have happened thaf fateful night.
It was midnight when Santosh's wife, Rakhi banged on Bimal's door. "Daktarbabu!", she called, "Dorja Khulun. We need your help immediately". Bimal rubbed his eyes and opened the door, wondering what emergency it could be. Seeing Rakhi standing there, holding the listless checkered corpse in her hands, he knew immediately what had happened. "Its Santosh. He has been bitten. Please come immediately", she begged. He rushed inside, grabbed his bag, putting the antitoxins inside and took out his cycle. "Lets go", he said. He pedalled fast to Santosh's house, knowing the way, taking Rakhi behind him.
"What happened?", he asked her.
"Santosh had just gone out of his house, into the fields to answer nature's call. Suddenly we heard his screams. We rushed out to see him lying in the field, wincing in pain. He had been bitten by a snake. He had managed to hit the snake with a brick and kill it. I brought the snake in case it would help", explained Rakhi.
"Good thinking", Bimal praised her presence of mind.
Reaching Santosh's house, Bimal quickly went inside and examined his patient. He made up his mind and administered the life-saving drug.
"I will have to monitor him throughout the night. It was a green vile snake. Its mildly poisonous. Lets take him to my house. Call others", ordered the confident doctor. Others had already gathered around. Santosh was carried to the doctor's house, where he was laid down on a bed, as per the doctor's instructions. He sat beside Santosh and checked on him. " You go lie down, doctor. I will call you if anything happens", said Rakhi, looking at the doctor, with gratitude. "Its kind of you, Rakhi. I'm fine. Anyway, I wont be able to sleep, thinking about Santosh's condition. You take some rest", said Bimal and instructed Rakhi to recline on a chair beside Santosh. Rakhi followed his command.
She didn't know when she fell asleep. When she opened her eyes, it was already light outside. She got up and saw Dr. Bimal smiling at her. "Good morning. Good to see that you got some rest. Santosh is better now. I think the danger has passed", said Bimal, feeling thankful himself, to God that he could save the young fellow.
Santosh recovered slowly over the next few days. Well, this was not an unusual story. Many people in this village and the next and the next, had similar stories to tell about this village doc.
His cycle was no lesser than an ambulance. "God on wheels", many villagers called him lovingly. He didn't liked to be called God, he preferred to to call it "practice on wheels".