Even as Mehdi Hassan, the Pakistan-based ghazal maestro, looked set to be discharged from hospital, his family was worried about footing medical bills once he was back home. Son Arif Mehdi, himself a singer, said the family’s income wasn’t enough to provide the kind of medical care that would be required for the legendary singer.
Dawn TV quoted Arif as saying the family still had to pay about Rs 5 lakh to a private hospital on account of accommodation and treatment. But Aga Khan Hospital spokesman Rasool Sarang told Hindustan Times they had treated the 82-year-old singer free of cost as a service to the nation.
“He is our national hero and the hospital takes care of his expenses. Even his doctor does not charge him any money.”
Hassan is universally acclaimed as the finest ghazal singer of his time. His range and mastery over even the most difficult raags makes him the undisputed emperor of ghazals. Lata Mangeshkar once compared his songs to “the voice of god”.
The singer suffers from disorientation. Admitted to the hospital on February 12 for fever and chronic lung infection, agency reports quoted Hassan’s doctor, neurologist Dr Aziz Sonawala, as saying that the hospital has treated him for generalised infection.
The Friday Times, reported last week that a cheque presented by former Punjab CM Shahbaz Sharif to the great singer had bounced. Refusing to comment on the cheque, family members confirmed that rising medical costs were coming in the way of Hassan’s treatment.