my story - 11


 MY STORY - 11


Once I saw a patient at 7 o'clock in the morning-a boy. He had acute appendicitis. His parents wanted to go to Breach Candy because they were living on Warden Road. They got the room there and admitted him. I had written a note that the operation would be at 9 o'clock at night.

Dr Bhargava, my anaesthetist, went to see the child. The Matron said: "You bloody Indians, you write this is an emergency case, acute appendicitis and so on; you admit the patient at 7 a.m. and want to operateonly at 9 p.m. What is this/” she was an English woman and she kept saying "Bloody India, bloody Indians".

Bhargava said: "Don't ask me, you ring up Dr Mehta and ask him”. So the Matron called up my home. I was out and returned home around noon time. When I was told that the Matron had been ringing me Up, I sent word that I was having lunch and would take her call after I finished it. When she finally got me she started using bad language again. She said: "Dr Mehta, I am not admitting your patient. What sort of bloody.../” Before she could say anything more I stopped her and said she should take care of her language. I told her to call the patient's doctor Meanwhile I also called the latter and asked him to remove the patient from Breach Candy and take him to Harkisondas where, I said, I will do the operation, which had been posted for 9 p.m. at the request of the boy's father, as the mother was out of station and could not reach the hospital before that time. Next day I sent a letter to the Trustees of Breach Candy. I told them that their Matron had used foul language and that I was going to call a press conference. The gentleman to whom I addressed the letter used to play golf with my son-in-law Rajen. They met in the morning and the Trustee said: "I believe your father-in-law is Dr S.J. Mehta". Rajen said, "Yes". And the Trustee said: "Can you tell him not to call this press conference?" Nonplussed, Rajen asked what had happened and was given the details. Rajen advised his friend to get in touch with me personally which he did. He also wanted to know what to do with the Matron. I suggested that the Matron's contract be terminated in six months' time. The Trustee agreed to it.

Six months went by. One day Dr Bond who was an English doctor, telephoned me and said: "Shanti, they had given you a promise that at the end of six months they would terminate the Matron's contract. Instead of terminating it they have extended the contract by three years!”

So I telephoned the Trustee who had given me the promise and I told him that he had broken a promise, and I would see to it that action was taken.

I had to go to Delhi. In Delhi, I met Jawaharlal Nehru. I told him: "Panditji, I am going to create some political trouble for you. I am calling a press conference and I will tell the press how the British continue to behave with Indians". And I gave him the background to my anger. Panditji said: "Shantilal, don't do anything till you hear from me".

Thereafter, I was told, Panditji asked his secretary to call the British High Commissioner and ask the latter to meet him at 10 o'clock the next morning at Teen Murti House. When the High Commissioner arrived, Panditji told him: "Your Excellency, your citizen so-and-so, the Matron at the Breach Candy Hospital in Bombay, is persona non grata with my Government. She will have to leave by tonight. Please see that it is done.

In the meanwhile I returned to Bombay late that night. Dr Bond had been calling my house. He had left word that I should call him up no matter what time I got in. Around 11 p.m. I rang him to ask what the matter was. He said: "Congratulations, that woman has been shipped out today!"