“Ovvoru manidharin udambudaan aalayam…”
December 2010 in Chennai was cold, dark, and gloomy with what seemed like constant torrential downpours that wouldn’t let up. This was not the Chennai that I was used to. Well. Most things that were happening at that time were not things that I was used to.
For the first two weeks that December, I spent most mornings doing the same thing – jumping out of bed in my MIL’s home at or before 5 am, getting dressed, downing a couple of coffees, packing breakfast for myself and my parents who were at the hospital for Appa’s illness, and getting out the door to get to the hospital by 6 am. I was late one morning, and combined with the morning traffic, I didn’t make it to the hospital till 8:45 am. Feeling mildly panicky at being late, I entered the lobby of Apollo Hospital to find what seemed like over a hundred people milling around, including hospital doctors, nurses, and staff that seemed to be assembling for something. What jobless people these are, I muttered irritably to myself. I tried to enter the lift to get to Appa’s second floor room, when the lift attendant indicated that I would have to wait. For what, I queried, looking around with a touch of annoyance. But I could already sense a difference in the mood around me.
Within seconds, magically, a hush fell over the room. And then it started. The Apollo Anthem. The doctors, nurses, and staff sang this song in three languages, in one voice. Apparently, they did this every morning to re-affirm their dedication to the patients that they treat. To say that I was touched would be a major understatement. Perhaps my frayed nerves that were on edge from Appa’s sudden serious illness made me more receptive to pain in others. And more vulnerable myself. As I stood in that crowded lobby more lonely than ever before in my entire life, I unabashedly cried a bucket.
Two years later, this song still doesn’t fail to move me.
Hats off to those that serve with dedication, and truly make a difference in the lives of people that need them.