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A tale of two worlds

27 November, 2006

By Muhammad Ahsan Yatu


A decade ago when there were not too many new cars around, car stickers were in common use. Two of these stickers that were of particular interest to me would read ‘An unclean car is sign of a healthy mind’ and ‘Sick minds do not watch movies’. My car was overage. It would not look clean even after servicing, shampooing and polishing. Rather, interference would make its invisible depressions visible. So, I did not wash it that often. I kept it because it used to behave. The sticker was an affordable punch.

The diagnosis related to movie watching was not that inappropriate either; at some point in life one wants to see on screen something beyond the blood in the streets and the dances in cornfields. Absurdities and art, no matter how nicely mixed and beautifully presented, do not attract. This is not about Indian movies only, it is also about the movies that come from the West. The Indians have to engage a billion people in something, as there are not enough jobs available. The prosperous Westerners want a holiday from realities. They have been struggling hard since the last seven centuries. Now they want peace of mind and some of it they get through the fantasies shown in their films.

Yet not all of the Indian and Western moviemakers skip realities. They still produce as good and as near to life pictures as the others did a half-century ago. Movies with a meaning are available. All that one needs to do is to shed the sickness syndrome and search for them. The active people can find one from the market, and for the lazier ones the cable can be as helpful. The beginning of a movie usually reveals all. One may leave it if it does not appeal and try another one or another channel. Good movies are available and they are sometimes better than those of the forties and the fifties. I discovered this while watching a movie after a recess of 15 years in a friend’s home about five years ago.

The film was a love triangle, serious stuff. Two women had fallen in love with one man. It was obvious that ultimately only one of them would succeed. The failed one became revengeful. She killed her rival by poisoning her. Till that point it was a simple story. The story became complex when the soul of the dead women moved out of her body and flew high and joined the company of angels and nice souls. In a carefree environment where everyone else was happy, the unfortunate soul was supposed to become one like them. She proved different. She did not forget her earthly connection. The angels and souls around her left her alone. Days and weeks passed but she could not adjust herself to the new surroundings. On the contrary, she became terribly sick. And that shook the angels. They had never faced such a situation before.

One of the angels came forward and asked her what it was that was so agonising to her. She was reminded that death was part of life and she should not take it to heart. The nice soul had to open her lips and tell the angel that she was not worried about herself, it was the people whom she left behind and also the man whom she loved. She would like them to live happily forever. The angel told her ‘forever’ was not possible under the prevailing rules of business; nor was itpossible to look after all the people she was worried about. However, he assured her that he would see to it that her man lived as long as possible. To fulfil the mission, the angel descended on earth along with the nice soul.

Both remained day and night with the man to protect him. He was saved from drowning, a car accident and an intrigue that I forgot. The nice soul was happy and the angel too was enjoying the special thing he was doing. Days, weeks and months passed. Nothing untoward happened. The angel and the soul decided to return. But before their departure a strange thing happened. The man whom they had saved from so many tragedies fell all of a sudden on ground and became unconscious. The puzzled angel could do nothing about it. He could only watch and sweat.

Within minutes sirens wailed and a wagon arrived soon after. It was a cardiac care ambulance. Down came the doctor and the nurses and rushed towards the unconscious man. His heart was massaged and simultaneously he was given an injection. The man after a few minutes opened his eyes. He was thanking through his eyes the medical team and the people who had informed the hospital about his heart attack. The angel heaved a sigh of relief. The nice soul’s eyes were full of tears. Those were the tears of pride, the pride that she felt in her earthly connections. Both returned, satisfied, to their eternal abode.

It was an English language movie. In Europe help is immediately available if chest pain is the indicated problem. State medical services are duty bound to reach within a minimum length of time the place from where the complaint comes. The patient receives help whether he is on top of the Alps or sailing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Things are slightly different in Pakistan. It is a real life story. It is about a friend who had severe chest pain at midnight about a year ago. He was taken immediately to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences. The friends who were with him also informed me but an hour after. When I reached the Institute its cardiac care unit was in absolute darkness. The nurse on duty told me that the patient was investigated thoroughly and he had no abnormalities, hence he was sent home. I returned home. After two hours my mobile rang and the patient friend informed me that he was still having severe chest pain.

We took him to Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology. He was again tested and given a rest for a while. Afterwards we were told that there was nothing serious; however, it would be better if he remained for a day under observation in some other hospital because no bed was vacant in the Army Hospital. We took the patient to a nearby hospital of high repute. There they tested the patient for tolerance and declared him positive. He had a heart problem. The doctors advised angiography but they could not do it because the machine was out of order.

We had no choice but to shift the patient to Shifa International. It is a hospital for the elite and certainly a better place in many aspects. The patient was operated upon within 24 hours for a bypass. The operation was successful. A few days back, the friend again felt severe pain in his left arm and chest. The specialists in Shifa suggested angiography and admitted him for the same. A day later he was discharged with a note that he would be called back for the test when the angiography machine would be repaired. In this part of the world commitment and capacity will become part of the job only when the human factor would be given preference to help from the heavens.

End.

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