Doctor Train

Srikant anxiously glanced at the time displayed on the HMT Sona strapped on top of a sweaty handkerchief wrapped around his left wrist. People all around him squeezed and pushed each other in a pile of obnoxious human fumes, sweat, and breadth. Beads of perspiration trickled down his forehead and nostrils falling on the shoulder of an old man stuck in front of him like a siamese twin. Travelling on a local train of the Kolkata Suburban Railway system at peak office hours was a daunting task and Srikant was one of the 3.5 million passengers who did it every day.

Well, not every day, Srikant took the Lakshmikantapur Sealdah local at around 7:30 AM from the Baharu station five days a week and after around two hours of jostling with fellow passengers in the locomotive, which travelled fastest at a snail-speed of around thirty-six kilometres an hour, he would arrive at his destination, the Sealdah Railway Station in the city of Kolkata in India’s West Bengal state.

This was if everything was okay, which was not the usual case. The Indian Railway system in 1990 still had a punctually nonpunctual reputation. For that reason perhaps, the IST or the Indian Standard Time was aptly referred to as the Indian Stretchable Time for ages. This unpunctuality was, however, not a gift bestowed by the British, the father of the Indian Railways, who were real sticklers with time. It was something that the Indian’s developed on their own merit and came to accept as a normal occurrence.

So Srikant’s train would usually be late. Then there were the occasional strikes leading to railway blockades, congestions at busy signalled crossings, cadaver clearance of suicide cases and runover cattle, neverending track maintenance work, and a load of other things, which delayed the train.

Further, the locomotives would be packed with passengers like sardines in a can, who lived in the suburbs and villages and had to travel to the main city to earn a living every day. Not everyone could afford a residence in the heart or within the happening periphery of the metropolis.

On top of it, the hot and humid Kolkata weather merrily contributed to the anguish of the travelling people. Overall, it was not a comfortable experience to journey on a local train of the Kolkata Suburban Railway system.

The coaches themselves were optimally unkempt and uncomfortable. Of course, there was no airconditioning, only caged ceiling fans provided air circulation in the middle. With hard and torn seats, dirty floors and walls, and open windows with rickety shutters, which hardly closed properly, journeying on one of these electrical behemoths were not easy for a traveller on any given Sunday.

By the time Srikant got on the train from the small suburban-town station of Baharu most of the seats in the locomotive would already be occupied with passengers who boarded from the four stations prior to his stop. The young man would hardly get a seat and had to complete the wretched journey standing on his feet and nudging for space with fellow passengers at the start of his day.

The man had been working hard for the past year and trying to save money to be able to take up accommodation in the city itself. He was fed up with journeying by the local train.

Hailing from a suburban village, most of his life he had to travel on the local railway system to come to the city to access the very scope for a better life, such as visit a library, buy a book, attend college and higher education, and now for work. He hated travelling on the train, but there was something that he hated even more, which was causing him much anxiety and internal turmoil.

Srikant glanced at his watch again. On one hand, he was anxious to meet his patients and on the other, he hated working at the private hospital, which was nothing more than a money-making machine that exploited human health – this was the prime cause for the physiological tempest that pressed his heart and rattled his brain.

This was not what he had imagined the noble medical profession would be when he was studying hard to be a physician. Only after completing his education and starting a job, the young doctor hailing from a rural village realised how unjust and exploitative the Indian medical system really was, and especially for the poor and the middle class, who had to beg, borrow, and steal to pay for treatment.

Medical Insurance was another farse with a million hidden clauses, which primarily benefitted the Insurance houses. Further, in most cases, one had to pay the insurance premium every year to avail of the benefit. This meant that if one’s earning stopped so did his or her capacity to afford and access insurance if needed. Years of paying premiums in the past would not help one in the sick and ailing December days at life’s end.

He looked at the passengers around him, mostly middle-class folks with hard lives and meagre fixed monthly incomes. He wondered how helpless and harassed these people were whenever they succumbed to sickness. They were the multitudes of prey for a gargantuan group of predators who gnawed and gormandised human lives in the name of health and wellness.

Srikant felt disgusted thinking about the medical profession he was in. He felt abhorred to be a doctor, to be a person who worked like a blood-sucking leech only to exploit the sickness of middle-class men and women to make wealth for individuals who owned hospitals that were just money-making businesses.

It had just been a year that he had been a doctor, and he had dreamt of becoming one since he was a toddler. He thought, was it a wrong decision. The pay at the private hospital was great but his bosses needed him to be unethical. He was a good person with noble intentions, who wanted to serve others. How on earth could he live a life preying on the sickness of poor and helpless people, draining their life’s savings and filling his own pockets.

Should he give up his job, should he start a private practice, but then nobody knew him, and it would take ages to make a name for himself. Where would he open his chamber, who would be his patients? Was money more important than his morals and ethics?

Internally torn with a million questions, Srikant rhythmically swayed with the other passengers journeying towards his destination, to a job that was tearing him up from inside into a million pieces.

At that very moment when the young doctor in the local train contemplated the unethical injustices in the Indian medical system, he heard an unusual commotion a few feet away.

“Someone please help my dad, he is unable to breathe and nearly fainting,” screamed an anxious young boy in his early teens as his father collapsed on the passengers around him.

“Everyone move aside, I am a doctor, I can help,” spontaneously reacted Srikant not thinking about anything else. The genuine physician in him came out to help. Pulling out his stethoscope from his attache the young doctor got down on his knees on the dirty train floor to help a suffering man see the light of another day, while scores of passengers surrounded them in a murmuring human circle, some comforting the man’s son, some talking among themselves, and others watching helplessly as the calamity unfolded.

After a few minutes of CPR and administering a life-saving injection, which luckily Srikant had in his suitcase, the young doctor was able to stabilise his first-ever locomotive patient.

“The man is out of danger, but we need to shift him to a hospital as soon as the train reaches the Sealdah station,” announced Srikant, with a satisfactory smile across his relieved face. At that moment everyone in that train compartment of the 7:10 Lakshmikantapur Sealdah local cheered the young doctor with volleys of applause and shouts of praise.

On reaching Sealdah station, a group of helpful passengers volunteered to carry the sick man and help him and his son along with Srikant get on a taxi to be taken to the nearest Government hospital. The young doctor did all he could to get the man admitted and access emergency treatment and left the hospital after a few hours when some other friends and family members of the man came.

Satisfied with what he had done, as Srikant was coming down the stairs of the hospital, the young boy ran up to him from behind and stopped him to say, “doctor I have no words to express my gratitude. If not for you my father would not be alive today. I have not much, but this ten rupee note that I was saving to buy a chocolate bar today. It would make me very happy if you accepted this as your fee for providing treatment to my father on the train. After all, being a doctor is your profession and there should be remuneration for your services.”


Srikant stood speechless clenching the ten-rupee note in his hand as the boy bowed in respect with a clasped hand namaste and went away. That day Srikant did not go to work. He went back to the Sealdah station and sat on a bench deeply thinking about the day’s event. He blankly glanced at the trains arriving at and leaving from the platform, gaped at the thousands of men and women moving all around, and finally looked at the ten-rupee note still fluttering in his hand. It was the greatest reward, the most satisfying money that he had earned as a doctor to date.

At that moment Srikant clearly saw the purpose of his existence. At that very instance, the young doctor decided what to do with his life from that very moment.

The next day Srikant submitted his papers to the hospital and quitted his job. For the next three days, he arranged himself – got some handbills printed, bought essential medical supplies and a big suitcase to embark on a life’s mission very unique and perhaps not experimented by anyone else.

From the following day onwards Srikant dedicated his life to providing medical services to passengers in various local trains of the Kolkata Suburban Railway system and other local railways in the West Bengal region. Initially, it took him some time, but slowly he gained fame.

He divided his time to board on various local trains from the station of their origin so that he would get a place to sit and opened his suitcase of medical paraphernalia to treat patients in moving trains. With printed handbills and word of mouth, he advertised his services and soon his name became famous.

He would take whatever payment the passengers could afford. He did not mind it, making money was not what he ultimately wanted, however, over time he started seeing so many patients that his service became quiet financially viable as well. He even started receiving support from philanthropists and organisations attracted and convinced by his innovative breakthrough in providing medical access to the masses.

After providing medical consultations to passenger-patients for more than ten years on the local trains Srikant was able to motivate many other doctors to join his quest. Following this, he was able to form a conglomeration of like-minded visiting doctors from all over India and other parts of the world, who came to volunteer some of their time to experience treating patients in a moving local train. By 2020 Srikant’s services spread to other regions of the country as well.

So today by any chance if you happen to travel on a local train in India, do not be surprised to see a doctor checking a patient and an anxious queue of people waiting to get treated. It is just a ‘Doctor Train’ a name originally bestowed to Srikant by one of his passenger patients, now used to address all the other dedicated men and women of the medical profession who motivated by Srikant’s cause and calling devote their time and services to treat people in the local trains of the Indian subcontinent.

Doctor Train


Copyright © 2021 TRISHIKH DASGUPTA

This work of fiction, written by Trishikh Dasgupta is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, send an email to the author at trishikh@gmail.com or get in touch with Trishikh on the CONTACT page of this website.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trishikh

Trishikh Dasgupta

Adventurer, philosopher, writer, painter, photographer, craftsman, innovator, or just a momentary speck in the universe flickering to leave behind a footprint on the sands of time..READ MORE

97 Comments Add yours

  1. Happy Panda says:

    Wow. What a beautiful and motivating story!

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      So glad that you like it. Yes this was meant to be motivational.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. nedhamson says:

    Reblogged this on Ned Hamson’s Second Line View of the News and commented:
    Remember riding the commuter train in Chennai… lol

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Ned for reblogging. I am sure people would like the social effort highlighted in the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A unique concept of medical service!

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You are righ, I thought so.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. rabirius says:

    Excellent work!

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for liking the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The story is very good actually. I read through it and it is very good work!http://thecookingjournal.food.blog/2021/03/13/i-have-a-tiny-announcement-to-make/
    Hi are you interested in my newsletter? I actually it’s just a little tiny thing I was starting. Being 13 I was just planning to study, but then I thought eh, why not start a newsletter apart from blog!😜

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Hi Aarushi, am glad that you liked my story. My best wishes to you for your newsletter. It’s a great initiative. It is my great pleasure to read it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Aww, thanks! If you’re interested, then you can comment on my blog with your email on which I would send it!😊🤗

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        Done. I look forward to visiting your blog again.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Most welcome! Done what?(I’m sorry actually) …

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Trishikh says:

        I have subscribed to email notifications for your posts. That way I would get to read your stuff.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Oh okay.. thank you for that…. And in an earlier comment, you had asked me to sign you up for my newsletter. And, unfortunately, I haven’t received your email on which I would send it…

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Aashwin.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. mcurry09 says:

    Lovely story. Does India really have Doctor Trains?

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      No Marthe sadly no. This is all a figment of my imagination. Perhaps it could motivate someone somewhere someday to do something similar in real life.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. “This meant that if one’s earning stopped so did his or her capacity to afford and access insurance if needed. Years of paying premiums in the past would not help one in the sick and ailing December days at life’s end.”

    I had no idea. I thought there was a public service to provide for the elderly.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Sadly this is the reality of the health system in our country with more than 1.3 billion people, majority of whom live in the rural areas and villages. All the development that we see in the TV and news for a much smaller percentage of people. Though the Government comes up with schemes to benefit the poor now and then, we are still hundreds of years behind developed nations I would say.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Well, how do are the elderly supported?

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        They are simply not supported. They have to manage on their own, or their children, friends or relatives takes care of them.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. That’s horrible. Supposed they have no children or family left!

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Trishikh says:

        Then they are left on the mercy of God or on the kindness of others.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Why can’t they create a system where everyone pays into and then everyone eventually withdraw from. There are a billion people. More than enough people to support the elderly. I don’t want to say this but it sounds like the old caste system still at work.

        Liked by 3 people

      6. Trishikh says:

        It is a sad reality that Insurance in our country works this way. There are a lot of solutions, but do not know, why nothing is done about it.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Sometime old customs are diehard.

        Liked by 3 people

      8. Trishikh says:

        Yes, that is true.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I wish people would be willing to change more easier. It could save a whole lot of heartaches.

        Liked by 3 people

      10. Trishikh says:

        Nothing is constant, everything changes, and I am sure that in their path to evolution towards an uber civilisation, medical and insurance systems will eventually evolve dramatically for the greater good of the people. Of this I am hopeful and certain.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Arpita Banerjee says:

    I so wish we have Such Dr. Trains here!! ⭐✨ Great story!! ⭐

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes Arpita, I too wish for it. Who knows maybe someone, somewhere, someday may be inspired by my story to so something similar in reality.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Lokesh Sastya says:

    So, when the story comes to the turning point when Srikant collected all essential equipment and decided on a purpose for his life with full confidence…
    A thought clicked in my mind that maybe he is going to serve his services on the train. I was amazed when I read the same point in the next line.
    Srikant did not waste his time working on a perfect idea. He has several challenges. These points show the difference between a story and real life. But your narration is excellent as always. Thank you so much. I’m waiting for your next story.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes Lokesh, you are right. After deciding to see patients on the train Srikant had to go through years of struggle to make a name for himself. If this was a novel, a lot of that could be said, however, since this is a short story, I had to keep it short and precise. Thank you as always for liking my story. You are a great supporter of my writing. Much appreciate it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lokesh Sastya says:

        Do you write poems and novels also?

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        Well I can write novels, I find them easier to write, but I want to leave my mark behind in short stories, that’s my true calling. No I have never tried to write poems seriously. However I love to write anything and appreciate any form of writing.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Lokesh Sastya says:

        👍👍

        Liked by 3 people

  10. Anamika says:

    Very noble thought. Hope someday this creativity of yours becomes a reality. Excellent 👍

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Anamika, I hope for that too.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. What a beautiful story Trishikh. That Srikant chose ethics and integrity over money is a rarity these days. As always your writing mesmerizes me. The story feels so real. Perhaps it will inspire a much needed reality. How imaginative.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Your coment rejunivates my desire to write as I look at it today morning. Thank you so much for your kind words. You are right not everyone can chose ethics and integrity over materialistic benefits. Yes, I also wish that maybe someone, somewhere, sometime may be influenced to do something similar. After all imagination is perhaps a stepping stone to reality.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Well said! A steppingstone to reality indeed. I hope one day you’ll write a book that I can read.

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        Well I can easily write a book or a Novel, I find it easier as one can say so much and there is no limit, however, I want to make my mark in short stories, which I find are more challenging. Who knows I might, however, write a book one day too.

        Liked by 2 people

  12. Nice and engaging story. You have described the scenes in a local train quite well.
    Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Glad that you find my story nice and engaging. Yes, I tried my best to describe the congestion in a local train during peak office hours. So much more could have been written on that front, however, in a short story one always have to keep a check on thoughts, plots, and words.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. KUSHANK says:

    Nice writing, I could visualise everything as it is happening in front of my eyes

    Liked by 9 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Kushank, glad that you find my story descriptive. Do visit my blog again, there are many more stories here, some of which I am sure you would love to read.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. KUSHANK says:

        Certainly I will check out other stories as well.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        Thanks Kushank, happy reading to you.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. denise421win says:

    You have described these scenes so well, I felt like I was there…. have a great day

    Liked by 8 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Much admire you appreciating my descriptions. I have tried my best. Have a great day too.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Wonderful post Trishikh Ji. Very nice write-up. You explained very nicely about the present scenario and circumstances of the medical world. Yes, As a doctor, clinician, and faculty I strongly agree with most of the points.I personally came across many such incidents and very much inspired by your write up.Have a nice day.🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Hi Prakash you are the first Doctor to read my story, and this really makes me very happy. Thanks for appreciating and agreeing to many of the points that I have made. Glad that I was able to inspire you.

      Liked by 2 people

  16. The story was interesting. The the idea of doctor trains was very unique and beautiful! It’s motivating.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      So glad that you find my story interesting. Yes the idea came out to be interesting. Wish it motivates someone, someday, somewhere to do something similar.

      Liked by 2 people

  17. Nice. The only request I have is to break your writing into a paragraph for an easily readable.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Sometimes the WordPress reader automatically joins my paragraphs, I do not know how to rectify this problem. Sometimes I correct it and again it goes bad. The story is actually divided in to readable paragraphs. You can see it in my website: https://storynookonline.com/2021/03/13/doctor-train/

      Liked by 1 person

  18. dunelight says:

    Oh, I was seriously loving the idea of doctors caring for commuters.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes, the idea came to me one night, and culminated into this story. Hope that something similar might happen in reality.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Nand Kishore. It makes my day when someone appreciates my stories.

      Like

  19. Halim says:

    I think this is easily your most beautiful story, and you have written some seriously beautiful epic stories, Trishikh! It’s because the idea behind it is so thoughtful and kind.

    It’s sad and frustrating how some of us don’t have affordable access to healthcare (or even a roof over our heads or even drinkable water, etc) which should be such basic essentials for everyone in this world. The frustrating part is that there are enough money and other resources to plan and provide for many more people, but some of the rich just hoard their wealth and only intend to get even richer. Like the wealth of the billionaires, just obscene, and my heart breaks thinking even if they give a substantial amount of their wealth to help the poor, they will still be very rich! And by ‘give’ I don’t mean freebies but organising/creating job opportunities, and things like schools/clinics, etc. Sometimes I think maybe I think this way only because I’m broke haha and if I’m rich like them I too would be greedy and selfish because that is human nature? Hmm who knows.

    Anyway, enough ranting and let me end by saying thanks for a great story as always, and I would love to live in the ideal world where there are people like Srikant! Cheers.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      As always I really appreciate your thoughtful retrospection of my story. You are right, we do not live in an ideal world, but people like Srikant do exist, only we need more of them, however, ever drop of effort matters, as it atleast makes a difference to someone.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. rulookingforjesus says:

    Like this

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you, much appreciate you liking my story.

      Like

      1. rulookingforjesus says:

        You are welcome

        Liked by 2 people

  21. da-AL says:

    great story!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      So glad that you liked my story. It try makes my day when someone appreciates.

      Like

  22. Another wonderful story, Trishikh.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Anna. So glad that you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. lynnfay73 says:

    Nice story. I like the picture/painting, too.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      It’s my pleasure. Really glad that you like my story. Ya I also like the way the picture came out, it’s actually a photograph treated in Photoshop.

      Like

  24. Athira says:

    Wonderful..Keep moving

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. Am glad that you liked my story. Surely will keep on writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  25. Athira says:

    It’s a pleasure for me!

    Liked by 2 people

  26. Hi, Trishikh! I have just nominated you for the Golden Bloggerz Award. Congratulations! https://chensp.org/2021/04/11/the-golden-bloggerz-award/

    Liked by 2 people

  27. Bob says:

    This is excellent! Well done.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Bob, so glad that you liked it.

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Ruelha says:

    Very engaging story that melts the heart…young doctor with ethics and morals ….choosing something so uniquely sacrificing…..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You are right, and on top of that he was also able to make a great organisation, which proves that if our intentions are noble, results will follow. Thanks a ton for appreciating.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ruelha says:

        Absolutely….the universe co-operates…. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ruelha says:

        Most welcome Trishikh…

        Liked by 1 person

  29. Pbji says:

    There is no greater blessing than to follow the passion of your heart. May many amongst us have the courage to do so. Thank u Trishikh. I am sure many after this reading will be inspired.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words of appreciation PB. I also hope that may this story inspire someone, somewhere do do something about medical treatment in our country.

      Like

  30. Wayan says:

    Thank you for this post, i love it, it is very inspirational story. Do what our heart tells us

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Wayan. So glad that my story inspires you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wayan says:

        Thank you Trishikh

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Asgar Molla says:

    Very noble thought. Excellent post …..(https://bit.ly/2UV33zH)

    Liked by 2 people

  32. Nelsapy says:

    Reblogged this on Nelsapy.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for liking my story and showcasing it in your own blog.

      Liked by 1 person

  33. I like this story very much.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Dawn, so glad you liked my story. Reading such a comment at the start of the day really gives me great joy

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Subhraroy says:

    In those days man did never care about money but to him worthiness of work used to get a greater priority.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      You are right, however, though there were things equally valuable to money.

      Liked by 1 person

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