Jhargram… A small sleepy town about 38km from Kharagpur. It is popular for its Sal forests… a place called Salboni. It’s a small Railway Station, crowded with villagers, carrying their massive loads of fresh vegetables, fish and poultry for sale in larger cities of Kolkata and Tata, and their unique ways of hanging their loads onto the window railings of the local trains using hooks, was a humbling sight. This was India in its true sense… mitti di khusboo, the smell of the earth!
I was there for an awareness programme on palliative care organised jointly by IIT Kharagpur, SANDHI (a science-culture and tradition-technology initiative by IIT), Jhargram art and cultural club (of which a late patient of mine was a pioneer), and Indian Association of palliative care represented by Kosish.
I realised how little we are aware of the personal lives of the multitude of the patients that we treat. Samir Chakroborty was one such hero, who had made documentaries and spent a large part of his life promoting art amongst the trials. Mitti di khusboo…
When the concept of palliative care, care of the elderly and the importance of planning for your death was explained, the local people were enthralled in forming a palliative care association at Jhargram. I returned with a promise to go back and train them as a part of our volunteer training programme.
India is beautiful… and still largely unexplored. People are receptive… you just need to reach out and touch them with empathy.