Very many years back, when I first saw a little boy playing in the ground with a board hanging to his neck, saying “”నేను మూర్ఛరోగి…”, I was first bewildered. Then someone convinced me that the sign board is necessary, so that the moment he starts ‘behaving differently’, people can be alerted to do certain things like keeping iron keys in the fists etc. But those were the times when Epilepsywas not yet scientifically explained. Later, I understood that those unfortunate people were rather being subjected to unprecedented discrimination and often associated with gory tales of twisted taboos. They were pushed to the extreme limits of self-pity and helplessness that almost certainly resulted in a deteriorated physical/mental health. It was painful to see a beggar with such a board, and even more irritating when someone faked it for money.
Later when I was with Nicholas Piramal (now Abbott), I frequently visited the Institute of Mental Health, Hyderabad and other super-hospitals for promoting a Speciality Drug that treats Epilepsy, and I have seen numerous kids and adults who were the victims of this stupid medical condition. It needs a lot of “Patient Education”, a life-time of controlled medication and very specifically a hell lot of support from family and friends. It was a different world I was in and I didn’t realize how close I was to realizing one of the most important lessons in life.
And then today, I saw one again. We were at the lunch tables and there was an “Entrepreneurship Training” going on nearby. They all started coming to the lunch area and this guy suddenly tumbled down. Someone helped him sit in a chair and offered some water. And then he had the ‘aura’, slowly convoluting himself, drooling saliva, had seizures and soon became unconscious. There were many people around and a few of us held him sideways to prevent his tongue from falling back (it chokes the victim), but what if it comes in between the jaws was another grave concern. He was finally moved out by security to wait for an ambulance.
In this entire episode, I watched one guy who was conspicuous not for wearing a suit ( might be an Executive or a guest lecturer or an organizer ), but because he was standing very close and never actually tried to help. He just stood there. It took me few seconds observing his stale face than the guy who was falling, before I moved forward. I don’t know whether he was just petrified or plain reluctant to offer help, but it struck me that:
Its not the cost of your clothes, size of your car or the social status that defines you. It is how much you are willing to help a falling guy, that shows your true worth. Whether its a physical fall, mental, career or whatever.
This is the lesson I ‘relearnt’ today. Please try to help others whenever and wherever you get a chance. You never know his reasons. Moreover we all have invisible boards hanging to our necks, with vividly colorful messages. I can see. So, why discriminate only one?
PS: On a lighter note, if what I said above is the correct unit of measurement, then there is a ‘Padmanabhaswamy Temple’ hidden within each of our selves. Lets dig it out right away without waiting for a court order 😉