Wrapped In Silence

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He was deaf and dumb. His identity he carried, a tattoo on his forearm, which read ‘Mohan’ in Kannada. He joined part-time service recently with us. He worked as a daily wager in the anatomy department of my medical college. His job, was to hose the cadavers each morning, and help in placing them on the dissection hall steel tables. He went about his work with a rare commitment, and possibly because of his congenital afflictions, was less distracted by happenings -around.

He was a terrific mime, and could easily get across what he had in his mind through very evocative signs and gestures ? his palm, fist, and fingers did a lot of ?talking?. I took him to the hospital?s ENT section, where after an audiometry and other tests, the technician, said, if I could stand guarantee, he could arrange for a free hearing aid. I signed the dotted line, yes, certainly I said. The Therapist said it was a severe case of neglect compounding an inborn defect, and the hearing aid, at best could only help Mohan identify  very high decibel sounds.

…He let two large drops of tears cascade down his cheeks and sobbed and sighed…

Mohan, looked mighty pleased with the imported equipment, and wore it with pride. I couldn’t make out if it improved his perception of sound, but he vigorously nodded when I asked him if he could hear me.

A few days later, I found him without his wires and ear-piece. I gestured and asked him what and why. He explained through some intricate digital mobility, that as he was asleep, someone had stolen it. I fell quite upset, and later went again to the ENT department. The speech and hearing therapist just smiled wryly, as I told him the fate that  had befallen Mohan.

I didn?t want to tell you earlier sir, but this is the fourth set he has managed to take from us. He just sells them. Anyway, you may have to replace, or pay for the piece as its guarantor, but let me see if I can cook up something.

I was crestfallen, and later confronted Mohan with the information I had gleaned. He let two large drops of tears cascade down his cheeks and sobbed and sighed. I left the mater at that, but wondered how or why these things happened.

That evening, walking back from work, to his shared lean-to near the railway station, a shunting train, knocked him down from behind as he walked along its tracks. He couldn’t hear the banshee toots of the diesel engine. He had no kith or kin, and I saw his inert body on the marble table in the morgue. The green alphabets on his forearm stood out in the dim light. In his pocket the Railway Police had found a slip of paper: from a pawn-broker acknowledging pledging of a hearing aid for fifty-five rupees.

A few weeks later, the ENT technician, sent me another set of hearing aids. A spare one he had traced in his inventory. As I looked at the shining piece of engineering, I felt a moist tear welling up in my lower lid. 

About the Author:
, widely published author of four books and a prodigious number of articles and research papers on the web and elsewhere, is a maverick Professor of Anatomy at KMC, Mangalore, where he has lived ever since his days as a medical student. His passions include conservation and wildlife biology.

Author: Dr. Arunachalam Kumar- India

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