Pavanpur Sanjeevini Clinic opens at 9 a.m. But on one day, the clinic was opened at 9.15 a.m. Villagers were gathered in front of clinic arguing each other. Their anxiety was to meet the doctor first. Who was present first? The argument was going on uninterruptedly at the top of their voice. They were standing in an unorganized manner. Dr. Murali and the compounder Raju did not arrive in time. Clinic was situated on a prominent locality of the small town Pavanpur.
A passerby was feeling that these villagers had converted the place as a fish market. There was an unusual rush before the Sanjeevini Clinic. On that day compounder Raju was on leave. It was unmanageable and difficult for the doctor to enforce discipline. Everybody wants to examine their health first.
Dr. Murali arrived fifteen minutes late and opened the shutters with the help of one person. Observing the situation, he requested the patients to be calm and sit on the chairs. He took a large size note book and noted down their names serially. Dr. Murali called them one by one to his room for checkup. He did not lose the patience, while examining the patients. The patients were asking irrelevant questions about their health. Most of them belong to nearby villages.
The entire health checkup process was over after two hours. All the patients were happy with the doctor. The method of charging the fees was unique. There were no uniform rates. It all depends on the paying capacity of the patient. If the patient is poor and pays nominal amount, doctor accept it. The doctor was magnanimous to the poor patients including beggars and treats them absolutely free. The doctor was kind enough to give medicines free to poor patients. But in the case of rich, it was exactly opposite. He used to charge more fees to them. This discrimination of fees was kept secret.
The doctor was relaxing on his chair after continuous work. At the same time, Vasu a local bank employee arrived and requested the doctor to visit his house for check up of his mother. His house was very near just few meters away from the clinic. The doctor without making any delay went to Vasu’s house. Vasu took his medical kit. On the way doctor wanted to clear some of his doubts.
” Vasu, I would like to ask you one question.”
“Yes doctor, you can ask me any number of questions.”
“I don’t know, when I see a banker, I want to ask about depositing the money in the bank. If a civil engineer meets me, I ask about the approximate cost for construction of a house. If a teacher meets me, I enquire about the education of my children. If a priest meets me, I ask about spiritual matters. If a writer meets me, I will share my views on the latest trend in the literature. If a journalist meet me, I will discuss about the current affairs. I am planning to invest some money in your bank. Let me know the present rate of interest. I want get maximum benefit. The amount is lying in the savings bank account earning less interest.”
“Okay Sir. Investment in the term deposit for a longer period would fetch you higher income.”
By the time they reached house, Vasu’s mother was relaxing on the easy chair. She was asked to lie down on the cot. Dr. Murali examined her with the help of stethoscope. He recorded her weight. Heartbeat was normal and the weight was not normal and alarming.
“Vasu, your mother’s overall condition is fine. She is weak due to pressure of domestic work and aging. Please see that she is not overburdened. To reduce the weight, ask her to go out at least half an hour for early morning walk.”
Dr. Murali prescribed two types of tablets with an instruction to take both at a time after lunch and the same dose after dinner for a week. The doctor told Vasu to report after a week. He left for his clinic along with Vasu.
“Doctor, you have not told me your fees.”
“Do not worry. I will collect from you later on.”
It was the nature of Dr. Murali to collect fees after two or three months from Vasu and other bank staff. The purpose behind it was to get lump sum amount. His compounder Raju was entrusted this job to collect the money on first of the following month.
Dr. Murali was in the habit of writing a lengthy letter to concerned bank staff personally with a request to clear the pending bill giving details of date of visit and the amount. Raju was expert in recovering the money. After handing over the letter, he exhibits his special smile putting his right hand on his head. He was not moving the place till he obtains cash. Paying two, three months arrears at a time was difficult for Vasu and others. Once, Vasu expressed his intention of payment of bill immediately through a letter to the doctor. There was no response to his letter. One day, he met doctor and asked him to take the payment of bill immediately after the checkup. But doctor just smiled and continued his habit. Vasu decided not to insist doctor to change his method.
After some years, Dr. Murali became one of the famous and busiest doctors of Pavanpur town. His income was also multiplied beyond expectation. Naturally his needs and lifestyle was also changed. He purchased a brand new car and constructed a new specious building on the outskirts of the town. Dr. Murali appointed a sincere and expert driver. Sometimes doctor himself drive from his residence to the clinic. The distance from his residence to clinic was about three kilometers.
Vasu maintained same relationship with the doctor. Dr. Murali never changed his attitude of helping the poor. He invited all his friends and relatives for the house warming ceremony. Vasu was one among the invitees. Government officer had constructed a house just beside Dr. Murali’s house. Both the houses were identical.
The locality of the new house was not good. Most of the residents were poor and living in the mud house and hut. Among them few residents had criminal background. Their profession was robbery and cheating the innocent people at the gun point. But these people had maintained respect towards the doctor.
One dark midnight being Amavasya, these people planned to rob government officer’s house. But they attacked Dr. Murali’s house, presuming government officer’s house. Dr. Murali and his family members protested them. In the meantime the robbers hit them and looted money and valuables. Doctor was seriously injured and his family members also got minor injuries.
It was revealed thereafter to the robbers that they had attacked a wrong person. Instead of attacking doctor’s neighbor, they entered doctor’s house. In the dark midnight robbers could not recognize the persons. Their target was government officer, who gave them trouble in getting compensation money. The whole exercise of the robbers was a tragic mistaken identity. Dr. Murali was a victim of mistaken identity.
For a noble person like Dr. Murali why such punishment? It was a talk of the town. Nobody was in a position to answer the question.
After this sad incident, Dr. Murali left Pavanpur for ever.