Laying it straight

Arshid Malik
The number of sick people visiting hospitals, both private as well as government run, polyclinics and acclaimed quacks is on a hyperbolic rise in Kashmir. What is the matter with us? Why are we falling colossally ill?
And all that while our health and medical institutions are poorly equipped to stay awake to the ever booming numbers. Step into an emergency facility in any hospital in Kashmir and you will walk away snubbed. ERs in our hospitals are so intensely packed with smells, the sick and ailing, their groans and gasps and attendants so that so death itself turns out to be ethereally colloquial. What I mean to imply is that falling sick is anything but appropriate for even those who turn up with high chances of falling sick in our monitoring and diagnostic facilities. But we fall sick all the same and by large numbers. Why?
Kashmir has been subject to chronic violence for a long time now. Generally the stance of an average Kashmiri is that of “been there, done that” which is to say we as a people have somehow come to underestimate the impact of the violent onslaught on ourselves. We think we are a “brave” people and there is hardly anything that would “break us”. Not quite true. We are human and our mind is traditionally receptive to all kinds of stimuli that pour ahead. Even though we may not realize what effect everyday news about routine killings, molestations and disappearances have on our current dispositions, it nevertheless tells upon us, rather specially on our mental health. Once our mental state is disturbed, our body develops symptoms in the shape and form of ailments as a manifestation of the same.
You would agree with me and therefore further solidify the hyper increase in the number of ailing in Kashmir when I say: that spinal and disc problems, sciatica, duodenal ulcers and the like are household names in Kashmir now; we may skip our meals but we never skip medicines; we do not see our closest of kin so often as we see our doctor; most of what we earn goes not to the grocer but the chemist; we know what medicines to take for whatsoever ailment by the time we cross the age of 30; no one could beat us if we were to participate in a pharmacy spelling bee contest; most of us can read X-ray, ultrasound, ECG reports!!!
So what happens is that the number of people who land in the emergency facilities of the hospitals in Kashmir due to “militancy related incidents” is far less than the number of those who fall sick as second tier participants to the “militancy related incidents” and allied news about the same. And eventually when we are talking of the conflict and the damage it has done to Kashmir in human terms, we need to account for this second tier participation as well. I guess organizations monitoring human rights violations should take note of this fact lest they are not interested in “collateral damages”.
The eventual outcome of the whole matter is that the number of people ending up in hospitals in Kashmir is too high. We fall sick and we have every right to do just that. We are not infested so much so by disease as much as we are invaded by the culpability and anguish surrounding human anguish. It is cyclic and no one can lay it straight!


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