Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Five days under the auspices of Anna: Day IV

I was woken up at 6am by Manoj as he had to leave for his home. I got up, washed my face and went inside the ward. Two of the patients were asleep while Rampal Singh ji was awake and needed to be escorted to the bathroom. I asked Manoj to wait till I am back after helping Rampal ji and he sat down arranging the various blood reports, X-Ray and ECG reports while I escorted Rampal ji to the bathroom.

As expected in a government hospital the bathroom was in a really patheic condition. The Indian style pot was overflowing with shit and the taps were all broken and the bathroom floor was really slippery. Thankfully though one of the toilets was cleaner than the other overflowing one and Rampal ji used it.

I helped him back to the bed and Manoj left detailing me about the various medicines and reports. Soon O.S. Chauhan ji also woke up and I helped him also to the toilet. While coming back he asked me if there was anything I could do about the pathetic level of cleanliness in the hospital.

Well, now that he had asked I was bound to do something.

People say that there is a certain psychological condition called the activist syndrome in which people who are normally just average start behaving in a much better than average manner after becoming part of something noble. I experience the same thing that day. I went searching for the janitor throughout the floor and finally found the janitor room with three or four of them wearing dark blue uniforms chatting with each other and smoking bidi (hardly 50 yards from patient ward and well inside the premises).

I ignored the smoke and informed them about the condition of the toilet and asked them when they would clean it up. 'It was supposed to be done by people in night shift, we have just came on duty.' One of them replied.

'Does that mean that the toilet would remain the same way till the night duty guy comes and cleans it up?' I asked a bit unnerved by their reply.

'Go and complain the sister about us if you want to.' One of them said nonchalantly.

I came out of the room and soon found my way to the sister and complained her about it. I had hardly finished when three of the janitors came into the room trying to overhear the conversation. When it occurred to them that I was indeed talking about them they intervened and said, 'Clean it yourself if you are so desperate to get it clean.'

'Oh really? Tell me where's the bucket and broom, I'll do it myself.' I said with the activist syndrome having taken me over completely.

The sister and the janitors looked at me as if I were a ghost. I on the other hand knew for sure that this is what Anna would have done had he been at my place. The janitors quickly left saying that they would go and clean up the bathroom and I walked back to the ward with a satisfied smile on my face. Indeed I had been bitten by the activist bug, there was no turning back now.

I went back to the ward and informed O.S. Chauhan ji that the bathroom will be cleaned up soon and he gave a satisfied and victorious smile, may be his first in the last eight hours since I had been with him. Then the doctor came on a visit and asked me to get ECG of all the three patients done and also ordered them to be shifted to some other ward after the ECG's were done.

One by one the ECG of all the three was done and by the time we finished with that it was 7:30 in the morning and when we asked a sister for newspaper as we wanted to read about Anna's fast we were told that the hospital did not provide newspapers though I could get one from the vendor outside the main gate.

I went to the main gate and got the Hindi 'Dainik Jagran' as well as English 'Times of India' newspapers. In TOI O.S. Chauhan's picture was there on one of the inner pages taken at the time when he was being carried to the ambulance. In both the newspapers there were pages full of news about the movement and all of us were missing being at Jantar Mantar. Rather it was the anshankari's who were missing it more than I was. I was there by choice but they were there due to the doctor's decision to send them to the hospital.

At about 10:00 am they were shifted to a third floor ward by the ward boys with a bit of help from me. All three of them were better than they had been in the night and they repeatedly asked the doctor if they could be discharged so that they could go back to Jantar Mantar. The doctor replied, 'I won't stop you from going but i won't sign your discharge slip either.'

Apurva, the volunteer who was supposed to carry on the good work after I leave arrived at about 11am when I was on phone with my father trying to explain to him that I was not at Jantar Mantar as he expected but was at home studying for my upcoming GRE. I was in no mood of listening to a lecture from him or mom as to why I should keep away from the movement and how it would dent my chances of getting a US visa. I had moved above all that in the last two days. I left for home soon after explaining Apurva about the medicines and the test reports of the three patients and also requested the ward boys and sisters to keep an eye on them.

I reached home at 12:30 and slept as soon as I got in the bed. When I woke up it was about 4:00 in the evening, much after the two hours I had planned while going to sleep and took a bath, got ready and rushed to Jantar Mantar as soon as I could.

I reached Jantar Mantar crossing by 5:30 but even before I could cross the barricades I came across two of our volunteers who were going to Chawri Bazar as the market association there had promised us 2000 pamphlets. It was 7:30 by the time we returned with the pamphlets and the 'Shor Karo' march in which we were supposed to bring a plate and spoon from our homes and beat them to make noise had left for India gate from where they were to come back to Jantar Mantar. The logic behind 'Shor Karo' was, 'In order to make the deaf hear you ought to make lots of noise' (Something said by Bhagat Singh when he threw a bomb in the assembly).

I had also got a plate and a spoon in my bag with me but I had got late so I decided to stay at Jantar Mantar and look after the things rather than rushing to India Gate only to rush back to Jantar mantar again. The Assamese friend of mine who was here the day before also joined me in the evening after finishing with her office.

At about 8:30pm I received a SMS from a friend of mine in Bhopal saying that the government had accepted all our demands. I was surprised as no such announcement had been made from the stage. I rushed to Prahlad and gave the news to him. He replied, 'Yes, they have agreed but the kind of people they are it is very hard to believe on their words.'

Half an hour later it was announced from the stage, 'The government has agreed to our demands but Anna wants to think over it and only after that he will declare his decision. As of now the fast is not over.'

The news of the government agreeing to our demands filled all of us with new energy and zeal and the next hour was all about dancing and singing. Have you ever seen youngsters singing 'Raghu pati raghav raja ram?' or 'Ye desh hai veer jawanon ka?' Well, I hadn't but that day I saw as well did the same. In a country where if you hoist the national flag apart from 26th January, 15th August or cricket match people give you strange looks that was indeed a big change. Soon it was announced that Anna and others would break their fast at 10:00am next day and Anna agreed to that only after the government agreed to issue a gazette notifying the formation of a drafting committee for the Jan lokpal bill.

I left Jantar Mantar at 10:30 in night and met many fellow volunteers at Rajiv Chowk metro startion. Most of them I didn't know nor had seen at Jantar Mantar but we recognised each other by the yellow batch we were wearing proudly and everyone of us was congratulating everyone else. After leaving my friend at her hostel I reached home at about 12:00 in night and went to bed with the determination to reach Jantar Mantar as soon as possible in the morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment