Kill to Cure?
Ripu sat in his garden with the news papers in his hands and his pet dog Moon, running around. The headlines on the very front page glared at him;
‘ The organ donation racket busted; many doctors involved.’
According to the news, many innocent people, would be operated upon , needlessly in hospitals on fake assurances and organs would be taken out and sold at very high prices to the needy, who had such huge amount of money. Simply put, people were being cut open to steal their organs, to make money. What level of moral depravity could lead to this sort of inhumanity, thought Ripu. The news sent shivers down his spine. He sat motionless, staring into nothingness.
Ripu still remembered that day when he, a St. IX student, came back from school, visibly upset. His mother Aradhana who as usual, served him food was surprised to see that, instead of sitting at the table, Ripu was lying down in the bed. On asking if he was not feeling well Ripu got up saying he will not be able to study Science any more. Aradhana was taken aback because since his very childhood, Ripu had wanted to be a doctor.
‘What happened beta?’She came and sat near Ripu.
‘Mother, today in our Biology practical class, they showed us the anatomy of a frog. They pinned the frog on the dissecting board and cut it open to show it’s internal organs!Mother, they killed and cut open a frog so that we could study. Then we have earthworm, cockroach etc to dissect later in the year.This is sheer brutality, isn’t it?’cried a teary eyed Ripu. Aradhana had also been a Science student. She remembered her Biology practical classes too. She had also dissected frogs, cockroaches, earthworms. To be honest, she never felt as strongly as Ripu was feeling now.
‘Ripu, to learnabout different creatures, you have to see something similar, no? It is done so to understand the structure and functioning of the various systems in living beings.You want to be a doctor. You have to see the human anatomy too. Only then will you be able to treat them in real life, isn’t it?’
‘Mother, that is done on dead bodies. People are not killed to see their anatomy, right? Here the poor creatures are being killed,’ retorted Ripu.
‘Tell me beta, will the learning and understanding be not better if you see for yourself?There is a difference in reading from books and imagining,’ Aradhana tried to argue.
‘Why can’t everything be shown on computers?The anatomy, structure, functioning, everything can be explained through a computer, in fact it can be done a lot better, don’t you agree, Mother?’ Ripu was deeply affected.
‘I think what you say, makes sense Ripu. When we were studying, we didn’t have computers so may be the practical method was followed. But now the computers can be a much better way of explaining everything, like any other subject. But Ripu, the school won’t listen to us. They will follow their approved syllabus,’ Aradhana seemed to be speaking aloud.
‘Then I will not do Science. To be a doctor has been my dream since childhood but not at the cost of mercilessly killing other creatures. I will happily choose another dream,’ came a determined Ripu’s reply.
Next morning Aradhana with Ripu went to meet the Principal of Ripu’s school. The Principal seemed a bit perplexed after he heard them.
‘We have to follow a syllabus, Ma’m in school. We do not have the liberty to change things as per our whims and sensitivities. Biology practicals are mandatory,’ he explained.
Ripu was adamant. He would not do Biology practicals. He changed his stream and joined pure Sciences with Physics and Chemistry and Environment studies in place of Biology. He also set out to fight and change the syllabus. That was definitely a daunting task for a mere fifteen year old. He started writing about it to all the relevant people like the Education Minister, media, professors etc. He did not get responses from everyone and the best that he got was an assurance that this matter would be thought about. Years rolled by. No significant change happened. Ripu was now a doctorate in Aerophysics. He was a senior scientist at ISRO. He had made a mark in his field but had not given up on trying for the change in syllabus for the Biology practicals.Now his words and thoughts carried a lot of weight and were heard by many. He had shown presentations where through computers, everything in Biology could be explained and in fact in a better manner. He constantly brought forward the fact that killing innocent creatures for study had actually become redundant and hence could be done away with. It took almost thirty, thirty five years for people to start seeing things differently and agree to his view point. His son Sohail, was now in middle school and had dreams of becoming a doctor.
Ripu’s tireless efforts bore fruit. With the support from other NGO’s, PETA,etc finally the Biology practicals did away with dissecting creatures. The syllabus was revised and when Sohail took up Biology in St. IX, Ripu’s dream had last come true. He did not have to mercilessly kill innocent creatures to study their internal organs and understand their functioning. What a feat Ripu had achieved! In due course Sohail became an eminent cardiac surgeon.
Ripu was brought back to the present by his wife standing with his cup of tea. Seeing such sadness in Ripu’s face, she cast an enquiring look at him. Ripu held out the paper to her and sat back on his arm chair. Tears were rolling down from the corner of his eyes. He had not been able to trade his sensitivity for a noble dream and for some, their greed had washed away all traces of humanity from them!