The sun had already set and the parking lot was dimly lit. Dr. Chakravarty slowly backed his Lexus at the Best-Deals store parking area in Brookville Town situated in a rural area at the outskirts of Los Angeles. He heard a thud and felt a jerk. Another vehicle had backed into his car. The doctor got out and walked to the back of his car to inspect the damage.
“It didn’t hurt, man. A small scratch, that’s all,” spoke a burly person in a husky voice from the driver’s seat in an old GM pickup truck.
“Your truck made a dent on my trunk lid. Let me see your insurance.”
The burly man got out. He was a six-feet tall overweight Caucasian. Two of his friends, equally hefty, got out the car. The big man glanced at the trunk lid of the Lexus and said, “What’s the problem?” He faced his companions and asked, “I don’t see any dent. Do you?”
“No.” His friends chorused.
“Look here.” The doctor pointed at the dent on the trunk lid.
The burly man and his friends laughed. “If you can afford a Lexus, you can afford to fix the dent. Right?”
His friends chorused loudly, “Yeah.”
“Foreigners are taking our jobs. Driving Lexus cars.” The burly man turned towards the doctor and shouted, “We don’t need you here. Go back to India.”
The trio got into the old truck and drove off laughing, the loose muffler making a raucous noise.
The doctor duly filed a police complaint. Weeks went by with no news from the police.
Dr. Chakravarty, a cardiologist, had a busy day at the coronary unit of the Brookville Hospital and came home late. His wife, Anushka, was asleep. He grabbed a sandwich and went to bed.
The phone rang in the middle of night. It was Dr. Kim from the ER. “A Mr. Johnson had developed severe chest pain, and his EKG and cardiac enzymes are abnormal. Can you come and take over his care?”
Dr. Chakravarty dressed and headed toward his car. It was raining. “Drive carefully,” Mrs. Chakravarty called after him.
Wearing a gown, mask and gloves, Dr. Chakravarty, entered the room where Mr. Johnson was resting accompanied by his physician assistant and a CCU nurse. The patient was overweight. Various wires from his chest and IV plastic tubes hooked up to machines were chirping like crickets. An oxygen mask covered his face.
“Doc, will I make it?” Mr. Johnson asked weakly, the words indistinct.
“Sure. You will. Let me check you.”
Dr. Chakravarty adjusted the mask covering the patient’s face. He was shocked because he recognized the patient, the man who had shouted at him to go back to India.
The doctor thought, “Shall I treat him here and likely save his life? If complications develop by chance, his family may think that I didn’t give proper care because of the parking lot incident. Perhaps to avoid any unpleasantness, I should shift him to another hospital. But this may take another hour or two, and meanwhile he may die. Help me God, what shall I do?”
Dr. Chakravarty excused himself for a minute and went to the physician’s lounge. He took a picture of Goddess Kali from his wallet and placed it on the table. He took several deep breaths and prayed. “O, Kali Mother, give me the strength of equanimity at this juncture. I’m trained to save lives. Give me the courage and confidence to do so now.”
Dr. Chakravarty and his staff wheeled Mr. Johnson to the Cath Lab and successfully placed a stent. Afterward the patient was moved to the recovery room. The doctor dictated the operation notes and came to the recovery room to check on the patient.
Mr. Johnson lay on the gurney. Dr. Chakravarty stood next to him watching the monitors for a few minutes. The patient began to move.
“Mr. Johnson, are you all right?” The doctor spoke softly.
Johnson sluggishly turned his head towards the voice and slowly opened his eyes pushing away the cobwebs of sedation.
“You came early to the ER. That helped. You’re lucky.” Dr. Chakravarty removed his gloves and mask and dropped them in the garbage bin.
Johnson stared at the doctor. “You’re the guy I ran into at the parking lot.” He said slowly and lowered his eyes. He was speechless for a minute. Then he said feebly without looking at the doctor, “You saved my life.”
“Yes. I did.”
“I’m sorry, Doc, for what I said the other day.”
“Don’t worry about it. You should rest now.”
Mr. Johnson looked at Dr. Chakravarty and said, “Give me your hand. If you hadn’t been here, I’d be dead now.” He firmly held the doctor’s hand.
“Doc, don’t go anywhere. You’re needed here.”
(All the names in the story are fictitious.)