With hope in their hearts and a prayer on their lips, Lucknowites are closely following the medical bulletins being issued by the All India Institute of Management Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi. They’re all hoping “Atalji” comes out of his illness.
If a letter by the Lucknow MP in 1988 to Dharamvir Bharti, the then editor of Dharmayug, is anything to go by, the man is a fighter to the core. In his letter from the US, where he’d gone for a kidney operation, the former PM wrote: “After the doctors told me an operation would be performed on me, I got disturbed and could not sleep properly. My inner turmoil has given birth to a poem.”
The poem, titled Maut se than gayi (face-off with death), captures his never-say-die approach. It reads: “Than gayi, maut se than gayi, jhoojhne ka mera koi irada na tha, mod par milenge iska wada na tha, raasta rok kar woh khadi ho gayi, yon laga zindagi se badi ho gayi (a face-off with death is a certainty now. I was in no mood to fight since I never knew what lay in store. Death is trying to scare me, and threatening to become larger-than-life but I won’t give in without a fight).
Mocking death, he wrote: “Tu dabe paon, chori chipe se na aa, samne vaar kar, phir mujhe aazma (don’t come on tip-toe, confront me and test me).”
The poem was written prior to his operation, from which he emerged triumphant. Lucknow is praying for an encore.
Back in Delhi, Vajpayee remained on ventilator for the second day on Saturday, with no improvement in his condition. He is battling an acute respiratory tract infection in the AIIMS ICU. Officials at the hospital said his condition was stable. Dr A. Sampath Kumar, head of cardio-thoracic vascular sciences, said: “Because his vitals are stable, we are hopeful. The probability of his recovery is there, though it may take some time.” However, sources at AIIMS claimed the former PM’s lungs have become almost dysfunctional.
The day also saw Congress chief Sonia Gandhi visit him.
Inputs from HTC, Delhi