A Matter of Faith (10)



 Sometime in the early sixties, Dr Satyaprakash from the Snowdown Hospital in Shimla requested me to undertake some surgery there. One day after a particularly tiring surgical session I was invited by the Superintendent of the hospital for a rather delicate consultation'. The Snowdon Hospital had acquired a certain quantity of radium needles (used to destroy cancerous cells) a few years earlier. These were securely kept in a lead box so that they did not emit any hazardous radiation to people at large.

One day, as the story was told to me, the lead cover of the box got stolen and despite repeated requests by the surgeon, Dr Satyaprakash, there was an unnecessary delay in getting bureaucratic sanctions for the cover's replacement. From what I gathered later, the Superintendent himself had a hand in delaying the lid replacement for reasons best known to him.

However, the lidless box containing the radium needles had somehow managed to find its way to the wooden floor, exactly below the seat of the Superintendent! This resulted in considerable anguish and apprehension in the Superintendent's mind as to what devastating effect several years of radiation could have had on his bottom—and I was now being given the honour of inspecting his bottom! After a thorough examination of the "unfamous' bottom, I gave the necessary clearance. I have since then wondered whether the box has been transferred to another 'safe' place, with the lid intact. Below another bureaucratic seat, perhaps?

Compilation of professional reminiscences of specialists - edited by M.V.Kamath and Dr.Rekha Karmarkar.