As a Doctor, we see patients from all walks of life so much that after sometime we become immune to their backgrounds but still there are times when we find ourselves in a situation where doubts might come in the course of action.
Few days back, I was scheduled to operate Hernia(surgical condition) on a prisoner. Usually we donot see criminal records of the prisoners but as I was going through his paper work, I happened to read through his permission letter from the Incharge of the jail which mentioned the various acts under which he was punished. And among many, there was one ACT he was charged with- ' illegal and forceful confinement of a minor with forcing unnatural sexual and killing her thereafter!'. After reading I just stood there stunned for a moment.
Random vague images racing through my head making me want to throw up out of disgust and anger.
I entered the operation theatre and watched him as he lay helpless infront of me, under anaesthesia. Totally on my mercy.
For sometime I even forgot that I am here to operate upon him, just looking at him, with all the anger seen on my face.
I was the only one in the operation theatre who had to go through his criminal history. For rest everyone he was just a person from the jail.
Before I started the operation, my mind kept on saying that do not operate upon him, let him suffer, postpone the case or declare him unfit. Let him suffer no matter how small. But I was in my surgical gown, and I picked up the scalpel.
As my hands start doing what they were trained for; my mind kept blasting me with random thoughts, with random images, forced me to look at his face again and again. Whom rest of the team was seeing as a patient, I was seeing a devil in him. And all thoughts pumped my anger- should I do penectomy too? Should I castrate him? Can I make him bleed to death? How could he! To a child!
I literally thought of cutting his artery and make him bleed to death, or letting his wound gets infected and let him suffer or die of complications, may be the poor child will get justice and this devil will meet his death.
But i don't know how my mind kept on saying, ‘You are a Doctor and you can do no harm’, ‘You are a Doctor and you can do no harm’.
“He's helpless, he trusted you, do your work.” And then I didn’t look at his face again and did what I came for. Operated with the same precision I operate any other patient. As a consolation I said to myself – ‘Being a doctor, I can’t do any harm, let his fate hound him, let the god decide’.
I could have given justice to the poor child that day, all it needed was a small cut on his artery but it is not about just one justice, it is about us as a society, us as human beings and for sure we have failed.
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