Journey with Life in Chest Pocket
Winter season has already set in. I opened the shutter of my covered garage and
started my car and to rev up the engine.
My cell phone rang. It’s my office Assistant. It was a bit surprising that my
Assistant calling in the morning and that to on a holiday.
He briefly informed me that he received a call from the hospital last night asking me
to report to hospital immediately along with my ECG test report and see a doctor on urgent basis which I underwent yesterday.
-Sir I collected the report last night but did not call you that late.
-I am on my way to the office. I said and hung up.
I serve in an organization where we face emergency situation every now and then
causing cancellation or reduction of leave. By now and then I want to mean the time
when the emergency coincides with my necessity. As a result, you don’t get leave
during such emergency. Over the years I got habituated to face such situation on short
There lies always a possibility of national emergency in view of safety and security
during national holidays when all are busy going home. Thus chance of getting leave
during such national holidays remain almost impossible.
All my family members are also acclimatized for such incident. Getting leave during
festivals are something very covetous.
But I was lucky that time as I got leave during a national festival. Vacation during festival,
the incident itself is something very exciting, celebration is a
We got festival leave, my whole family; two children, wife and
our boy servant all were bubbling with mirth with this simple news.
We got this festival leave after so many years.
I drive my own car during such leave. We will start early in the morning just day
after. I’ll be on the steering, my wife will sit in front beside me and my two children
and the boy servant would sit at the back. Journey would take place day before the
festival. As such, it’s very usual that the traffic would be heavy besides being a long queue for
But we are prepared for all those. My wife has arranged a lot of eating and drinking
items in view of a very long day journey. My children have arranged their favorite
song CDs. Our boy servant has even taken a small pillow to have a nap in the journey
as against the objection of our children with the promise of not snoring at all.
All preparations are done. The pleasures at the destination i.e. vising own home and
staying with own people along with the fun during journey have put all in a jovial
From my side, there is no uncertainty in the offing, lest something much unexpected
happens in one day time. But considering all, I’m set.
As per service rule, all officers have to undergo some routine medical checkup as a
precondition for endorsement of Annual Confidential Report. That was almost time
for the report.
As I am scheduled to go on leave, there were some extra works to do and I remained
busy for the whole week before leave. I could not make time to go to the hospital for
checkup. I thought of doing the checkup after coming back from leave as I’ll still
have few days’ time in my hand.
As my family members were bubbling with mirth in view of impending leave, I also
started feeling the taste of homesickness deep in my mind and a sense of lethargy
crept in me very stealthily and I planned to leave some work pending for doing those
after my leave.
We are scheduled to start next day morning. I thought of leaving the office a bit early.
I would do some left over petty shopping while returning home, I thought.
I called my Assistant to know about anything important as I was to leave early.
-No Sir, nothing that important. But if you can make some time to go to the hospital
and give blood, urine etc. for test, they will take a few days for making the report and
I would be able to collect those by the time you come back from leave.
I nodded positive to his proposal as the hospital falls on my way home. As it was
before vacation there won’t be much rush in the hospital. I thought.
It did not take much time for giving urine and blood but ECG took a bit long. ECG
test is applicable for those like me who crossed forty years of age. It’s an extra
statutory yearly checkup for aged people.
However, I returned home having done the medical checkup and shopping. I rather
thanked my assistant for his advice.
The last bit of preparation was done, only to start next day as early as possible.
On insistence from my children and wife I loaded everything in the car at night less
the eating and drinking items and hand bags.
After a long session of discussion and laughter all went to bed late.
I got up early. I saw my wife was already in the kitchen along with the boy servant.
Having taken all preparation, I went out to bring my car from the parking garage.
Children were asleep and I thought of waking them up at the last moment.
The road was empty in early morning and also because of holiday and I reached my office
in twenty minutes. I was totally flabbergasted at the timing of the event.
My Assistant was standing holding the report. I opened and saw some machine made
parallel serpentine lines, signed and sealed by doctor in one corner.
The machine drawn lines and medical comment scrawled by a doctor did not make
any sense to me. But it was well comprehended that this piece of paper can drive a
mortal blow to my much coveted leave.
The heavenly faces of my children sleeping with the sweet dream of going home flashed on me.
I felt very helpless. I felt my legs getting numb. Not for any concern of my biological
heart but in view of the apprehension of breaking the heart of my innocent children.
In entered my office. None was around. I thought of tearing the report in pieces and throw in
the dust bin. Anyway, I steeled my will of going on leave come what may.
But just for some consolation, I went to our office Medical Inspection Room to
consult with the doctor who happened to be close to me.
In reference to our informal relation I informed him first about the preparation of my
going on leave. I also informed him about my determination of going on leave at any
Doctor listened to me with full empathy and took a close look at the report.
Having scrutinized the report, he looked at my eyes. I didn’t have a drop of problem
to understand his state of helplessness as medical professional betrayed on his face.
His sedate medical advice for me was to immediately report to the hospital.
-A number of tests would be carried out right away as you report and there is a
possibility of admitting you in the hospital as festival leave has already begun so that
you are cared in the ICU.
-It’s relating to heart, lest something grave happens. Doctor added further softly.
As I expressed my obstinacy regarding going on leave, doctor got a bit nervous.
-If you at all go on leave, then please don’t blame me for any mishap.
-You may rest assured, no one will blame you regarding this matter. I assured him.
Being assured, doctor gave me some emergency tablets and advices.
-If you feel any pain enroute, instantly take these tablets and report to nearby
hospital. Keep this report in your chest pocket so that it can be taken out for any
emergency and keep your wife informed about the location of the report.
Finally, when doctor learned that I would drive myself, he totally declined to let me
go like that. He won’t let me drive the car and insisted to take a driver.
-Where would I get a driver now that to during festival holiday? I thought to myself.
Above all, our car cannot accommodate an additional passenger and that would spike
the family atmosphere inside the car during long journey. More so, if I take a driver at
this last moment that would definitely give rise of some suspicion in my wife. I
Nothing doing, I thought and just nodded and didn’t tell anything to doctor. I also
decided not to tell anything to anybody. I left with a smirk on my face.
-Please don’t forget to inform me should anything happen. Doctor said as I departed.
I started my journey keeping the report in my chest pocket.
A feeling crept in me that I was driving my car preserving my life in my chest
pocket while others were making fun and frolic in the car.
I pulled down my side door glass half, cool wind started kissing my face and
-How pleasant it is, everything around are so cool. Everything I am seeing around;
human, animal, nature all are making sense. Everything are appearing as
beautiful as never before.
I remain conscious about the medical report in my left chest pocket and sometimes I
touched my chest to feel that.
I halted on way side space to break the monotony of long drive. My wife and children
went out and happily stretched their legs, writhing their body, touching the rustic
plants to get a feel etc. I took a close look at all of them.
So far, many things did not make any sense to me but now everything even the way
side dirty crow with its dirty black feather, which used to be an ominous sight, started
pleasing my eyes and even her hoarse cawing was sounding very soothing. All
creations of God, nature and animals appear to be something especial and significant.
I got an epiphany that God loves all His creations equally. He has a plan for each of
His creation. Nothing that He created are unnecessary.
As we boarded on the ferry, my wife went up to the cabin along with my children and
servant boy. I didn’t accompany them as someone has to stay with the car.
I stood by the side holding the railing of the ferry overlooking the passing water.
Dirty water was floating some carcasses, some vultures were sitting on the dead body and
scooping out flesh. Those were definitely very awkward sights which I always tried to avoid.
But that day the sight did not appear to be repulsive rather appeared meaningful. A dead
and decaying carcass, definitely health hazard for any locality, but in the natural
process the river was carrying that away and would vanish those in the process and filth eating
vulture was feeding on that before its destruction. I kept gazing on the passing
-Baba, please give me some money. I got back to myself at the call of a beggar.
A tattered clad, skinny body with skin disease all over his body. A grizzly and
I hate this sort of sight, it gives me a notion of nausea. To get a quick rid of them,
either I flatly refuse and snub them to go away or at best flip a ten taka note on his
palm from a safe distance and ask them to leave.
But then, I did not have any urge of getting rid of him. I felt empathy and put
my both hands on his shoulder and asked him to see a doctor soon otherwise the disease
would be aggravated. I talked looking at his face, tried to see a healthy man in him
supporting a family.
-Poverty has aged his malnourished body more than his chronological age. But he must have
crossed his fifty definitely. I thought.
He lived for a pretty long time fighting poverty and disease. He would definitely
survive even longer, I wished while heaving a sigh.
The old, dirty and diseased beggar also looked at my eyes with a poker face.
I put my hand in my chest pocket, took out all the money it had put all on his stretched palm. I totally forgot to
have a look as what I was giving.
We kept looking at each other’s eyes fully mesmerized. Neither of us cared for what
I gave and what he received.
He made some unintelligible sound through his vocal cord. He was dumb, I
understood. He looked at the open sky while making the same sound and disappeared
in lines of vehicle.
We reached home safe and participated in the festival next day full hearted. Then I
thought of seeing a cardiologist there during holiday. But did not find the ECG test
report in my chest pocket.
-The old dirty and diseased beggar took away my report along with the money! I wondered to myself.
I got busy in social rigmaroles and could not make time to see any cardiologist during
my vacation. I went to my departmental hospital after falling back from leave and
underwent ECG test afresh. Fresh report came without any observation.
I did not require to go to any cardiologist till date.
But I did not put my life out of my chest pocket since then.
Col. Meher Mohabbat Hossain (Retd.)
I had a long career in Army. I was trained to follow orders, instructions and set rules, taking those as axiomatic. That strayed me a bit from free thinking as happens with all technology users. Basically I am a free thinker always and now in search of some basic truth in my own way. ([email protected]).
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