Cultural transformation

It was a month back that an 18 year old girl, from a middle income household, who was seen by my colleague in the OPD was brought to me for second opinion. Unwell with profuse watery diarrhoea for many years, she was anaemic edematous, and quite sick. The parents seemed to be a disengaged from the condition she was in. A quick history and evaluation led us to think about a protein losing enteropathy and or malabsorption, leading to anaemia and hypoproteinaemia. In the conversation with my colleague, the girl told that her younger brother was quite sick and had underwent intestinal surgery at Lucknow. A possibility of a rare genetic disease crossed our mind, and we advised them admission for evaluation. The parents had not given this history at all.

A colonoscopy done next day, confirmed our diagnosis, of “Polyposis Coli”, and I was now to talk to the father about the only option for the disease being colostomy and intestinal resection. As I started talking to him first question I asked was, does anyone else has this problem. He said, his younger son, younger to this girl, had the same disease, and has had 2 surgeries in SGPGI Lucknow and is waiting for his third surgery. I wanted to ask him why this girl who had this disease much earlier and more sick was not taken to SGPGI? But having been in this context for the last couple of years, I kept quiet, knowing the futility of this question. Instead I offered a referral to SGPGI and told them about what need to be done. He was not willing. He wanted all the treatment in our centre. I him took to the surgeon with us after discussions about treatment options he left promising to come back for admission within a week. We await them, but from the body language, I was sure, we may not hear from them again, and she might be left uncared for….

Yesterday in the OPD a 35 year old lady who had a disability since birth (intellectual) was brought by her father (in his seventies) to show us. She was fairly well, but for some aches and pains. She seemed to be happy to sit and talk about her various issues, very exuberantly. As I continued to talk to her, her father kept repeating one phrase along with other statements about her illness. We could not marry her off, we could not marry her off. She did not seem to be listening nor showed any sign of discomfort with this statement, but the father, seemed to be quite concerned about this issue. They were from an upper-class business community. I assured her that she was well, and send them of with some supportive management and advise. But the repeated statements of the father continued to reverberate in my mind over the day.

Why was he getting concerned at this age – was there no support system for her after parents pass on, was he regretting that he could not find a home for her, a husband who will take of her. Was the expectation of the community of getting her married of playing in his mind? One would never know, and I was left wondering, what would happen to her, where would she be, in 10 years time….

2 of the many stories that we come across every day, a context of our nation that struggles with socio cultural values that discriminates based gender, geography, caste, religion and many such similar issues.

The news in the mainline media is filled with “political manoeuvring of powers that be” for consolidation of power. Using religion for polarizing communities and thus consolidating power seems to be the driving agenda at this time. Religious nationalism and economic prosperity seems to be the dream of the vociferous majority. Animal rights and values for animals seem to be more important than human rights and value for humans.

But is this what our nation need at this time in history? What our nation needs is a cultural transformation, a transformation that challenges the roots of our “gender, caste, geographical, language, tribe and religious identities based discrimination”. A transformation that will change our heart, our deep cultural practices that discriminate.

Will our leaders ever see this? Do we see the need for this and work towards this, or are caught up with business as usual as majority are, gloating over all what the media is promoting? We were taught in our young days this truth “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female.”

Can this be a dream to dream – In India, there can be no division based on caste, religion or gender, though we might hold on to faiths that are different! What would it take for our nation to move towards this dream?

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