by Ashiq Masood
While visiting my daughter admitted in the children’s ward of Niseiki Biyon Tokyo, (Red Cross Hospital Tokyo) I met Oya San, a male nurse who had worked in Kashmir as a volunteer on a Red Cross relief mission after the 2005 earthquake. On learning that I was from Kashmir, he hesitantly asked, “Why do doctors and nurses sleep during night duty in the hospitals of Kashmir?”
Oya San told me that he had many times tried to persuade local medico staff on night duty to take a round of wards and help comfort the injured patients battling for their lives in makeshift hospitals but to no avail.
He was unable to understand the very common “sleep on duty” phenomenon in Kashmir hospitals, even when their suffering fellow citizens badly needed their services. How could he? There is no nurses’ room or doctors’ room in the hospitals here, which back home are used by staff on night duty to sleep in. Instead, nurses, as well as doctors, will be seen either with patients inwards or at the nurses’ station busy at work, checking and analysing reports, etc. Attendants are not required or allowed, to stay with patients as the staff treats them with the utmost care and attention.
This reminded me of an incident when my daughter was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of a famous hospital in Srinagar. An infant put on Oxygen in the ICU died just because nobody replaced the exhausted oxygen cylinder on time. Ali Mohammed, the child’s father, ran between oxygen store and ICU to look for someone who could exchange the empty cylinder with a filled one, he could find none. There was nobody in the store. I can’t say how many infants in the valley hospitals have died so far due to share negligence of the staff, but even one such incident should have been enough to overhaul the entire system. Poor Ali Mohammed along with other attendants took out their frustration by shouting slogans. After some time, exhausted, Ali Mohammed was left with no option but to take his dead child home. Life in the hospital was back to normal with other attendants returning towards. I still wonder what the hospital authorities would have shown as the cause of death.
Few years back, a 4-year child got trapped in the elevator doors of famous Ropongi Hills building in Tokyo and died. The child was with his mother, whose attention had wavered as the child moved towards the elevator. Although it was an accident and the mother could have been more careful, people all over Japan were shocked. So much importance is given to single life that Japanese prime minister, Junichiro Kozimi visited the site immediately after the accident. For days television channels carried discussions on how the accident could have been avoided.
The experts concluded that if the sensors in the elevator door were closer to the floor the accident could have been avoided. The top officials of the elevator contract company came with a public apology though, visibly, they were not at fault. Unfortunately, this does not happen with less privileged people of Kashmir.
One may come up with many explanations for such a contrast in the two societies. Having seen ordinary people like Oya San working during day or night, I think the difference lies in honesty, sincerity and dedication of every individual towards his or her professional duties. Honest, dedicated, sincere, hardworking individuals constitute a successful system and society – qualities missing in our society.
Chat Mangni Pat Shadi……
One morning in the office, one of my Japanese subordinates, Maruyama, asked for a leave in the afternoon. While putting my Hanko (seal, in Japan personal seal, is used in place of signature), I casually asked if all was well. With a big sigh, he informed that he was getting married in the afternoon. I was stunned for a moment and got lost; thinking of arrangements and preparations required for marriage ceremony back home. The marriage date is finalised after due clearance and confirmation from waza (local chefs who prepare feasts). Gani Wani, famous masala (spices) seller of Mahraj Ganj, is required to be given the waza’a list in advance. Shamiyana, crockery, decorators, videographer etc. are required to be booked in advance. Marriage back home is beyond getting married. It is one of the “major projects” of a Kashmiris life, which requires months of planning for this one-day match.
Maruyama, 42, had not even thought of getting married a week before. A few days back during a discussion, I had asked him about his marriage. “I am not interested in getting married. I am enjoying a happy life without the burden of children and wife,” he had replied. At lunchtime, while he was leaving the office for the ‘great occasion’ of his life, I asked him, what made him change his mind all of sudden. The visibly upset Maruyama said, “Oh, my girlfriend is pregnant and as per Japanese tradition I am obliged to marry her.” Maruyama is not the only one here shying away from marriage. Both men and women are reluctant to get married mostly for avoiding the “burden” of spouse and children.
Recent surveys show a rapid change in marital preferences especially among women with an increase in delayed marriage and those who will never marry. Despite the government providing cash benefits upon childbirth and monthly maintenance for every child of the family, there is a drastic downward trend of marriage and a low fertility rate in Japan causing serious concern to world’s second-largest economy. The ratio of aged to youth is increasing creating a dearth of workforce. The slogan used by the family planning department back home will read here as Chota Pariwar Pareshan Samaj! or Do Se Ziyadah Bacche Hotein Hein Ghar Mein Acchey.