dilluns, 16 de febrer de 2009

Stories of rottennes, corruption

"There were three black goats sitting on the steps to the large, faded, white building; the stench of goat faeces wafted out from the open door. The glass in most of the windows was broken; a cat was staring out at us from one cracked window.
A sign on the gate said:

LOHIA UNIVERSAL FREE HOSPITAL
PROUDLY INAUGURATED BT THE GREAT SOCIALIST
A HOLY PROOF THAT HE KEEPS HIS PROMISES

Kishan and I carried our father in, stamping on the goat turds which had spread like a constellation of black stars on the ground. There was no doctor in the hospital. The ward boy, after we bribed him with ten rupees, said that a doctor might come in the evening. The doors to the hospital's rooms were wide open; the beds had metal springs sticking out of them, and the cat began snarling at us the moment we stepped into the room.

'It's not safe in the rooms -that cat has tasted blood'.

A couple of Muslim men had spread a newspaper on the ground and were sitting on it. One of them had an open wound on his leg. He invited us to sit with him and his friend. Kishan and I lowered the Father onto the newspaper sheets. We waited there.

Two little girls came and sat down behind us; both of them had yellow eyes.

'Jaunice. She gave it to me.'

'I did not. You gave it to me. And now we both will die!'

An old man with a cotton patch on one eye came and sat down behind the girls.

The Muslim men kept adding newspapers to the ground, and the line of diseased eyes, raw wounds, and delirious mouths kept growing.

'Why isn't there a doctor here, uncle?' I asked. 'This is the only hospital on either side of the river'.

'See, it's like this,' the older Muslim said. 'There's a government medical superintendent who's meant to check the doctors visit village hospitals like this. Now, each time this post falls vacant, the Great Socialist lets all the big doctors know that he's having an open auction for that post. The going rate for this post is about four hundred thousand rupees these days.'

'That much!' I said, my mouth opened wide.

'Why not? There's good money in public service! Now, imagine that I'm a doctor. I beg and borrow the money and give it to the Great Socialist, while touching his feet. He gives me the job. I take an oath to God and the Constitution of India and then I put my boots up on my desk in the state capital.' He raised his feet onto an imaginary table. 'Next, I call all the junior government doctors, whom I'm supposed to supervise, into my office. I take out my big government ledger. I shout out, 'Dr Ram Pandey'

He pointed a finger at me; I assumed my role in the play.

I saluted him: 'Yes, sir!'

He held out his palm to me.

'Now, you, Dr Ram Pandey, will kindly put one-third of your salary in my palm. Good boy, in return, I do this.' He made a tick in the imaginary ledger. 'You can keep the rest of your government salary and go work in some private hospital for the rest of the week. Forget the village. Because according to this ledger you've been here You've treated my wounded leg. You've healed that girl's jaundice.'

'Ah', the patience said. Even the ward boys, who had gathered around to listen, nodded their heads in appreciation. Stories of rottennes and corruption are always the best stories, aren't they?"


Andrea recommends Aravind Adiga, The White Tiger.

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