Friday, March 11, 2016

Do You Want to Live – or – Do You Want to Die

Short Fiction – A Story on Life and Death

THE INTENSIVIST – 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: “Is 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.


“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...”


“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 is a strange irony of life and death  isn’t it…?”


“The man who wanted to live – he died. 

And  the man who wanted to die – he survived.

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

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

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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No part of this Blog may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical including photocopying or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Blog Author Vikram Karve who holds the copyright.
Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

© vikram karve., all rights reserved.

This is an updated version (repost) of my story written by me more than one year ago in 2015 and posted online earlier on 20 April 2015 in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog at url  and and

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