At the AIMMS Hospital in New Delhi, one Army Major approached the reception desk as he had come to inquire about a patient, Mr. Vikram Saluja who was admitted at the Hospital. The then on-duty nurse saw him and without knowing who he was she immediately took the anxious young Army Major to the bedside of Mr. Vikram. ‘Your son is here’, she said very softly, to the old man lying there on the bed. She had to repeat the words several times before the patient’s eyes opened. Heavily sedated because of the pain of his heart attack, he dimly saw the young uniformed Major standing outside the oxygen tent.
He could not speak but reached out his hand. The Major wrapped his toughened fingers around the old man’s limp ones, squeezing a message of love and encouragement. The nurse, observing the touching moments, brought a chair so that the Major could sit beside the bed. ‘Thank you Ma’am,’ a polite acknowledgement followed. All throughout the night, the young Major sat there in the poorly lit ward, holding the old man’s hand and reassuring him with words of affection and strength. Occasionally, the nurse suggested that the Major move away and rest awhile. He told her not to bother and that he was fine. Though the chair was uncomfortable and he was feeling sleepy as he had quite a rough day, he thought it better to be with the old man.
Now and then the Nurse who kept on coming to check on the old man’s condition heard the Major say a few gentle words. The dying man said nothing, only held tightly to his son all through the night. As dawn neared, the old man died. The Major tenderly released the now lifeless hand he had been holding and went to tell the nurse. While she did all the necessary formalities that were necessary, he waited outside the room quietly. Finally, she returned to him and started to offer words of sympathy, but the Major interrupted her by asking: “Who was that man?” The nurse was so startled, ‘He was your father, wasn’t he’, she answered.
The Major replied politely, ‘No, he wasn’t, I have never seen him before in my life.’ ‘Then why did you not say something when I took you to him? asked the Nurse. He further said, ‘I knew right away there had been a mistake, but I also knew the old man needed his son. When I realized that he was too sick to tell whether or not I was his son, knowing how much he needed me, I stayed.’ The nurse listened on, totally confused.
‘So then what was the purpose of your visit here, at the hospital, Sir?’ the nurse asked politely. The Major said, ‘I came here tonight to find a Mr. Vikram Suleja. His son was killed in Jammu and Kashmir last night, and I was sent by my Superiors to inform him.’ ‘But the man whose hand you kept holding the whole night was Mr. Vikram Suleja.’ replied the nurse in a stunned voice. They both stood in complete silence not knowing what a great act of support and kindness they had shown.
The next time someone needs you, just be there, you never know when you will require someone to help you too in your moments of weakness. Empathising towards one another and understanding each other’s needs is showing a quality of fellow feeling and compassion. There could not be anything more assuring for a dying man than his son’s hand. He died in complete peace not knowing that his son was no more.