July 31, 2005

Asking for the man

Dr Manoj Pande is trying to find a particular family. You know where they are? he asks of the men in a dark room. That tall man with the bandage on his face, remember him? Where's he? I have to find him quickly!

I'm sitting speaking to the men, some of whom were hurt in the landslide. None of them know where the man the doctor asks about is. He needs to hand over to the family the crumpled and slightly damp piece of paper he is carrying. It's a page torn from a school notebook, slanting scrawled handwriting on it. And this is what it says:
    This is to certify that Baby Radha and Baba Durgash Bhahraiche is suffering from cut and wound pain because major landslide in Hill no 3 Sakinaka Mumbai 72.

    Please urgent admit in hospital.

    Thanks, yours.
    Jatinder Khandage
    Senior Inspector of Police, Sakinaka police station.

Radha and Durgash, nobody knows where they are. But they will need this flimsy note to get into hospital. Hard to believe: why shouldn't any hospital simply see that they are wounded and take them in? Why should they need a letter from the police certifying not only their complaint, but that it was caused in this landslide? Who knows? That's still the way things work.

Dr Pande continues down the road. Asking, asking.

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