The motivation for me to join the medical profession followed by the decision to specialise in ophthalmology and thereafter join government service was the same. It gave me the opportunity to serve more people, especially the aged, who are society's neglected lot.
My job gave me a lot of satisfaction when I was posted in a small town civil hospital. The hospital had all the facilities I needed and it was centrally located. People from nearly 100 villages came to the hospital for treatment. I used to examine about 150 patients from 8am to 3pm daily and then perform surgeries. Patients had to wait their turn in a queue for up to three hours on an average. I had instructed my staff to follow the queue religiously and not entertain any 'sifarish' (favouritism) as everybody who came to the hospital was equal and should be treated so.
Everybody was happy with the arrangement. My boss, staff and patients never had any complaint. We used to organise free eye checkup camps in remote villages with the help of non-governmental organisations and with support from the government. After serving for five years at the same place, I cared about the hospital as my own.
But one fine day my boss called me to his room and said he had some bad news. He said that I had been transferred to a dispensary at some remote place. The month was August and the transfer season was already over. Nobody had been posted in my place. My boss was as perplexed as I was. He said he would enquire into the matter and get back. "I won't relieve you so get back to work," was his parting shot.
After a few days, he called me to share the real story. He said that a patient wanted to consult me but was not willing to stand in queue hence he went to the MLA of the area who happened to be a powerful minister in the state cabinet too. The minister gave him a slip, which was to be given to me. When the patient came to the OPD and gave the slip to my attendant, he tore it off saying, "Such letters don't work here. Go, stand in the queue." The patient got irritated and complained to the minister that he had been insulted. The minister took it as a personal affront, called the health secretary and asked him to immediately transfer the eye surgeon posted at the civil hospital. My boss said, "The minister is upset with you because of this incident, so go and apologize to him. I think he will get the transfer orders cancelled."
I was young and hot-headed at that time. I refused to apologise for doing my duty diligently. The boss said, "I need your services. I can only delay relieving you but I don't have a permanent solution to this problem." Days went by till somebody reminded the minister that I had not been relieved as yet. He took it as an insult and summoned the health secretary. He wanted the doctor relieved within 24 hours.
When the orders came, I told my boss, "I want to quit from a job where my services are not appreciated." I left the job to start a charitable hospital with the help of an NGO. Today, I don't have to worry about any minister or transfer order. Sometimes I do envy colleagues who draw a handsome salary and have a pension to bank on but the satisfaction I get from my work more than compensates me for the struggle.