While going through a newspaper, my eyes fell on the cover story which was on SKIMS. This prompted me to pick up my pen and I ended up writing my very first article. As I dived into the ocean of words, I realised SKIMS for Kashmiris was both a heaven where they could get the best medical care as well as a hell full of ignorant doctors. One can be cured but at the same time, one can be butchered by a not so capable doctors knife as well.
This premium institute (if one can even call it that) which Kashmiri students toil hard and burn mid night oil to join, gives an impression of a neglected, over crowded place. Our famous and topmost medical institute not only stinks but there is absolutely no regard for precious life. Seeing a doctor in this place means waiting in the long line of patients for hours together and even if by some lucky chance you do get to see a doctor, the medical tests you require for further examination have to be done in a private clinic because the date given for the same in the institute is not before several months at least. If you have ever been that unfortunate patient who had to spend a night in the hospital, you, I am sure, would be thanking your lucky stars to have survived being left at the mercy of junior inexperienced interns. The so called experienced and responsible doctors can hardly be expected to leave their cosy beds to tend to an emergency during the night.
Recently a family friend, visiting Kashmir, insisted I take him to see our premium medical institute. On reaching there, we were welcomed by a huge garbage heap outside the entrance. I embarrassingly made a hurried excuse of how the cleaning department must be on strike to save face. My friend on hearing this got an incredulous look on his face but thankfully didnt pursue the issue. As soon as we entered the actual building, the stench was so overwhelming that we were compelled to cover our noses. Again I made the same meek excuse but my friend seemed to be engrossed in something interesting. On turning my head around to find out the source of his attention, I saw the huge crowd of patients waiting in the patient waiting hall. Some were crying in pain, some were sitting on the floor due to the lack of seats and some were even lying down on the floor as they were in too much pain.The tickets were piled up on the counter. The air was suffocating and the room felt claustrophobic. While we were watching this, a well-dressed guy waltzed in and he was directly marched inside the doctors cabin probably because he was known to the assistant or may be because he had already fattened up his pocket with a wad of crisp notes. A few patients protested meekly but most of them seemed to accept this as a usual happening. My friends incredulous look was replaced by horror and disbelief. Trying to save whatever face I had left, I requested that we leave and go someplace, probably the Mughal gardens, which at least didnt shout of gross neglect and wilful misconduct. But my friend decided he needed to visit the toilet. On coming out, he simply shook his head and said, Darling, how come this premium institute doesn’t even have a clean functioning washroom? His next question threw me completely off as he wanted to know if I was sure this was the premium institute or maybe they had some other branch which I wasnt aware of.
How I wished he was right. How I wished that I could show him a hospital I was proud of. I shook my head slowly, trying hard to hide the pain ripping through my heart. After some deliberation we decided to leave. On our way home, he seemed to be lost deep in thought. In the evening, while talking to my father, he brought up the issue of SKIMS. My dad calmly replied that this is a daily problem in Kashmir. Things here have always been the same. Some government bashing, like most Kashmiris are used to doing, was also done. My friend listened to what my father had to say and then calmly replied, I think both the public and the administration are at fault. I realised how right he was. We people have a habit of blaming the government for all our woes yet when the administration tries to do something, we proudly flaunt these very rules we begged them for in the first place.
This is the kind of society we have become! It is very easy to blame the government for our problems but it takes courage to take responsibility. Let us not make the same mistakes our elders made. Let us wake up to our responsibilities and develop civic sense. We and alone we can carry our nation towards development. Let us behave as responsible citizens so we too can proudly say that we are from Kashmir, a place where everyone collectively works for the public good. Let us make this place an actual paradise on earth.
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