Sunday, July 5, 2015

LIFE AND DEATH - The Intensivist

THE INTENSIVIST
Short Fiction – A Story on Life and Death
By
VIKRAM KARVE

The doorbell rang.

It was my friend – the ‘intensivist’.

Now – I am sure you know that an ‘intensivist’ is a doctor who specializes in the care of critically ill patients – usually in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

My intensivist doctor friend was in-charge of the ICU of the best hospital in town.

“I need a drink,” my friend, the intensivist, said.

I poured him a drink – and I asked him, “everything okay?”

“A strange thing happened today,” he said.

“What?” I asked.

“Last week – around 6 days ago – two critically ill patients were admitted to the ICU – they were both put on ventilator – I will not bore you with details of their illness – but both of them had exactly the same symptoms – and both were in very bad shape – on the verge of death,” he said.

“Old…?”

“Yes – old men – both more than 80 years old…”

“The first patient had a continuous stream of visitors – relatives – friends – well-wishers – there was always a minimum of 3 people waiting on him round the clock – sometimes even more – he seemed to be very popular and loved by so many...”

“Really…?”

“His entire family – his children – his grandchildren – he even had a great-granddaughter – they were constantly by his side in the hospital – he loved them all so much – whenever I looked at him – I could see that he had a great desire to live – in fact – when I spoke to him when he was slightly better – he asked me for a quick discharge from hospital – because he wanted to go home to his family – yes – I could see that he desperately wanted to live – and the huge number of people who visited him – all  his well-wishers – they all wanted him to get better and live a long life…”

 And what about the second patient…?”

“I was about to tell you that – the second patient had no visitors – not a single person came to visit him in hospital for all these 7 days…”

“Not even a single visitor – how is that possible – does he not have any relatives, friends…?”

“He is a widower – and both his children are settled abroad in America…”

“He has no relatives over here…?”

“Apparently not – most of his folks seem to be dead – and the younger relatives are all settled abroad – well – he was living in one of those high-falutin old age homes…”

“That’s sad…”

“Yes – he was very lonely and depressed – he once spoke to me – and he told me that he wanted to die – that he did not want to live anymore…”

“What happened…? Did he die…?”

“No – he became better – and today we sent him out of the ICU into the general ward – it seems he may be discharged in a few days…”

“And the second patient – the old man with lots of visitors – what happened to him…?”

“He died this morning…”

“That’s sad – all his well-wishers must have been distressed…”

“Yes – there was a pall of gloom when we declared him dead – terrible scenes of sadness as his heartbroken family was overcome with sorrow – everyone was crying – grief-stricken, inconsolable…”

I saw tears well up in the eyes of my intensivist friend – so I said, “Come on – you are a doctor – you should not get so emotional…”

My intensivist friend looked at me and said, “It’s a strange irony of life and death, isn’t it…?”

“What…?”

“The man who wanted to live – he died. 

And the man who wanted to die – he survived – and he will continue to live the lonely unhappy life that he does not want to live…”

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
This story is a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.
 

This is an updated version (repost) of my story posted earlier on 20 April 2015 in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2015/04/the-intensivist.html
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