Friday, 10 April 2020

os : "This is John Galt speaking"

The thing that makes you sure is a moral premise.

-          Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged

He found her sitting in cafeteria talking to their friends and casually sipping coffee. He failed to recognize any distress on her face. Her sister however sounded panicky when she had called him. There were still few hours to begin his shift, but the news had jolted him out of his deep slumber. Riddhima had a disciplinary hearing that morning. It was most likely that she would be suspended for at least a month. The reason – she had performed a surgery the night before without intimating senior staff of the hospital thus breaking the protocol specially designed for interns. The senior doctor had been notified half way through the surgery and he had rushed to Operation Theater. She was asked to leave and she had gone back to her work as if nothing had happened.

Unfortunately it wasn't something that he had not expected. They had been together for few months already and he had started realizing why her sister confused her idealistic point of view as navet. It had tickled him when she was being preachy about bureaucracy, red tape, rules and guidelines. But what had made him believe that it wasn't her navet but belief in her own morals drove her to do things that she did; like her current predicament. As he approached the group, he knew that it was going to be a very long day.

While everyone looked glum including him, she looked no different from any other day; amused and eager to learn. She smiled him a hello when she saw him approaching her table. He gave her a weak smile and waved to the group. Her sister breathed a sigh of relief when she saw him.

"You are here quite early", she asked him very well knowing the reason for him being there. He sighed and sat on a chair opposite to her.

"Why did you do it?" he dived into conversation without wasting time on exchanging greetings with anyone.

"Who is John Galt?" she answered him. It seemed as if she was mocking his pretense of not understanding the situation or her judgment when she donned scrubs. While everyone around them looked surprised with her question his shoulders stooped in defeat.

"Is John Galt someone you know?" her sister asked him. He laughed at the expression that the girl sported. He was laughing at the irony of the statement.

"No Anjali. Your sister is making a reference to a novel which we both have come to enjoy and bicker about endlessly", he answered with a lifeless smile. He still could not believe the timing in which Riddhima had used that statement. Everyone was talking amongst themselves coming up with probable questions and theories about what discussions might take place. One of their friends suggested that she should apologize to the hospital board while her sister suggested that she should simply accept her mistake and accept any action against her without much hassle; perhaps they would expunge her records if she promised a good behavior in future.

"It was not a mistake nor was I wrong in my diagnosis. I am not apologizing for doing my duty", she answered in a clear and crisp voice. Her voice had gone cold and had razor sharp edges. He had a bad feeling about it. Her sister was first one to react.

"But Riddhima, you did break the rule and perhaps by the time you did that surgery, you might have broken a handful of them. Isn't that wrong of you to do so even when we were given specific instructions by this hospital's legal department when we started working in this hospital?"

"Yes, I did break few rules", she answered without breaking her gaze with her sister.

"Then shouldn't you be asking pardon from board members? Shouldn't you make them believe that this is a one time mistake and it will not repeat? You have had an exemplary record till now, so they might consider it", her sister asked her earnestly. She didn't answer her sister but she however was amused by her sister's logic. He knew that these conversations would get them nowhere and he was getting mildly agitated with her attitude. As the table fell quiet, he picked up the conversation and decided to get some answers from her.

"When I first read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand, I thought that the line – 'Who is John Galt' was a representation of achieving something impossible or asking questions for which there were no answers in reality. But through the course of novel, I realized that that statement was ironic. Whenever a character used that statement they were merely saying – 'Isn't it obvious?' That's what Riddhima also meant", he said not looking at anyone. His gaze was fixed on a stain on the wooden tabletop and he could sense everyone's stare on him.

"That is one way of looking at it", she answered. He lifted his head to meet her gaze. Her face had a calmness which he didn't expect that anyone in her situation would pose.

"There is another?" he asked her curious.

"It's sarcasm. It's telling a person that – 'you and I know the truth but I am too scared to utter it. That's why I am using this line instead'", she replied. Her tone lacked any sense of mockery which actually surprised him.

"What are you going to do?"

"I am going to tell the truth", she stated in an 'obviously' tone.

"Are you going to tell them why you did it?" he asked her.

"Armaan, as a doctor, my diagnosis was to perform surgery immediately. I recommended the same to the family of the patient. Since we could not get any senior doctors on time, I performed surgery", she explained as if she was speaking with a bunch of five year olds.

"Wasn't it possible to find a workaround for the situation till a senior doctor came in to picture?" It was Muskaan who asked that question.

"Sometimes a problem might have many solutions. In that case, every solution comes with a cost. I picked up the one with least cost and high accuracy. It was question of a life", she answered as a matter of fact.

"You took that decision at the cost of your career. Do you think your sacrifice is worth it?" Rahul asked her incredulously.

 "Sacrifice? Are you insulting me Rahul?" her eyes flashed. She took a deep breath to calm herself and continued.

"I did what I did last night because that's what I believe was the right thing to do in that situation. I was merely performing the duty that I was assigned", she replied. She saw blank faces all around her except his, which was morose looking.

"Riddhima, if you answer this way, then they will surely suspend you", Anjali looked near to tears.

"Is there something grossly wrong in the logic that I presented?" she asked everyone. No one responded. She mused if anyone actually saw her point of view at all. She knew that he understood her decision but she was mildly surprised when he hadn't openly supported her.

"Riddhima, your logic has a flaw", Armaan answered. She raised an eyebrow.

"The whole argument is based on a person's subjective observation, beliefs, ideology, judgmental capability and intelligence. Note that none of these can be measured across demography separately. There are rules and guidelines in place because of the very same reason. It's not to measure someone's capability or intelligence but to achieve a uniform and predictable output from a given set of individuals", he finished.

"Armaan, what you are saying is not a flaw but a contrived reasoning for existence of rules and regulations in the first place."

"How is that?"

"Every individual is aware of his capability at every point of time and that is the absolute truth that almost everyone is afraid to accept. They hide behind rules, policies, and philosophies which gives ample reasoning to cover incapability of ones self. To simply put, if everyone did their work sincerely and the way it was expected out of them, then why would anyone want any rules?"

"It's because people are not that way."

"Exactly. There is no loyalty between two humans. Ergo, enforce it using rules", she answered resignedly. He looked at her and gave her a defeated smile. Everyone else around her was watching both of them silently.

"So you are not going to defend yourself?"

"No, I am not."

"This could mean a blotch on your perfect career."

"I know. I also know that this also not the last one."

"What are you going to achieve out of this?"

"It's not what I am going to achieve Armaan, it's what I am holding onto; it's what I am trying to preserve in myself."

"What are you trying to preserve?"

"My integrity."

"Is it more important than your career?"

"It's important than my life."

"This is not the end of your struggle against system."

"I know that it's just the beginning."

"Do you think you can make it?" At this, his voice got heavy. But he could not stop his questions.

"No. And that's because people who make and rule the world are my exact opposites." She seemed very sad at this. She had casually accepted the reality.

"Don't you want to change the world?"

"No. No one can change this world because people who make this world are not ready to change."

"I know." He accepted.

"I should probably go now", she said gather her stuff and hurrying for the exit. She heard many "Good Lucks" and "Take Cares" as she packed her belongings. She noted that he had not said anything to her. As the group dispersed, with unshed tears in his eyes he muttered a quiet Good Bye to her.

He knew that this was first of many hurdles that she was going to face. He hoped to be there next to her each time it happened so.




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