Mr. Y. Arvind
This is the story of Farook, a hardworking motorcycle mechanic from Coimbatore, in Tamil Nadu, India. Everything was going smoothly for him until chest pains brought his carefree life to a halt. Seeking treatment sent the expenses through the roof and all seemed lost until the day he heard about Sri Sathya Sai Baba's Super Specialty Hospital…
The short spry man in grease stained grey overalls looked up from his efforts on the machine, nodded and stepped back. The young assistant kick started the motorbike and the engine roared to life with a slew of blue exhaust from the tail pipe.
The mechanic shook his head at the sight and turned to the owner of the vehicle.
“There is a problem with the petrol. The oil filter has far more sludge than normal. Change your petrol station…or you will be coming to my garage every month…”
“I believe you”, said the customer taking out his wallet. “I too had the same doubts…but no one told me it was the petrol that was the problem. I was told that the oil filters are of poor quality…I have changed the filter four times. You are the only mechanic to have told me the cause of the problem. Thank you Farook.”
“Solving the problem is more important than just replacing the parts, sahib (sir). You won’t have any problem till the next service time…just take care of what you are pouring in the tank.” The brown eyes in the grease stained face crinkled with good humour.
The customer smiled and patted the man on the shoulder.
“It’s good to have you around Farook. Thank you and Khuda hafiz.” (May God be with you)
“Khuda Hafiz, sahib”
Farook turned his attention to the other bikes that demanded his expertise. It was a family run, two wheeler garage where Farook and his brothers worked. Farook handled the shop floor. He was a good mechanic and all was well until one day a nagging pain slowed him down; the pain was in his chest and spread out through his arms. He could not work as fast as he did earlier, and any quick work left him breathless. He put it off as strain and lessened his work load offloading more responsibility to his assistants.
Farook, the son of Mr. A. S. Sulaiman and Sara Begum, had three brothers and two sisters. They lived as a joint family in the city of Coimbatore, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India. He had dropped out of school after his 8 th standard and took up apprenticeship in his father’s workshop to be a two wheeler mechanic. He joined a training program conducted by the Hero Honda company to be a mechanic and ever since had been at the front end of the work, diagnosing and solving the problems associated with the ‘internal combustion engine’.
The Heart Cries Out
One day, he was on a visit to Mettur, a city nearby, visiting some of his relations. It was like any other day when he walked out into the drawing room. He took two steps towards the front door and… collapsed. A stabbing pain exploded in his chest cutting of his breath, and spread with lightning speed through his left arm. He had no idea of what happened next for he blacked out the next instant. When he regained consciousness he found himself lying on a bed, his wife seated on a chair next to him.“Dilshad!” he called out.
But to his surprise she rose and left the room. Another woman entered, approached the bed and held his hand.
“Why did you leave the room when I called?” he asked.
“It was not me, it was my sister. I was in the next room and she came and told me you had called for me”, replied his wife, Dilshad Begum.
“I was sure it was you…or maybe I was wrong. My vision is blurred…” muttered Farook passing his hand across his eyes. “It is still blurred,” he continued looking at the fingers of one hand. “I can see ten fingers instead of five…it is double vision and…” he closed his eyes, “I am still feeling dizzy.”
“I think we need to go to a hospital immediately,” said his elder brother entering the room.
Luckily for him his entire family was supportive and he was taken to Sangeetha Hospital in Coimbatore.
The Mechanics of the Heart
Farook was a man who enjoyed a smoke and a tasty cut of meat. It came to him as a rude shock that these habits along with a host of others were responsible for his present condition.
The results came to light after they met Dr. Rangarajan* who suggested the tests of ECG and Echo. It was diagnosed that He had a coronary artery disease. And it seemed to be progressing rapidly.
“You need to have strict diet control. No smoking or drinking, and here is a list of medicines that you must take regularly”, said the doctor firmly.
“If you mess up your life now, your entire family, wife and children will suffer the consequences. So take care, at least, from now on.”
Farook was not convinced and wanted a second opinion. He had an extended friends circle and one of them by name Nizamuddin took him to G. Kuppuswamy Naidu Memorial Hospital. There, they met Dr. Madhukar* a senior Cardiologist who again reaffirmed diet, no smoking and no alcohol. Farook abstained for two months but then old habits die hard; he started smoking again. The pain returned.
Farook and his wife, went to Kaza Mayeen Healing Centre in Mettupalayam at the foot hills of Ootacamund and tried alternative medicine. There he underwent acupuncture for seven days and found that it gave him great relief. The cost of the treatment there was around Rs.20, 000 for a week. The moment he felt he was returning to normal, but Farook once again fell back to his old ways of smoking and non vegetarian food. And consequently his health took a beating. Before long the symptoms returned and he was worse off than before.
“We approached the K. G. Hospital in Coimbatore but they told us it would be an expensive affair. They also said that Coronary Artery Disease was a progressive disease and an operation would not put an end to the condition. There was always a probability that the condition could recur”, said Dilshad Begum.
Farook’s family knew he was going through a bad time and needed their support and intensified their prayers.
When the student is ready the master appears. After all their efforts came to naught and they gave in to God, He answered their prayers. One of their neighbours Ms. Vasanthi*, a devotee of Bhagawan Baba, suggested that they go to the SSSIHMS at Whitefield.
and surgury was the last option
Finding Solace at Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences (SSSIHMS)
“We came to this Hospital for the first time in February 2008 and were given the admission date in April. Everything went on very smoothly”, said Farook.
It was a good thing that Farook had brought all his previous medical records with him. Having a complete knowledge of the history of the patient’s condition helps the doctors diagnose and treat the ailment better. (It is suggested that all patients should keep all their medical records carefully and file them. One can rarely predict when they may come of use.)
On the April 1, Farook was admitted into SSSIHMS and after a couple of days of stabilizing treatment, the cardiologists attempted an Angioplasty. Angioplasty is an invasive procedure where a catheter is threaded through the femoral artery into the heart and a balloon is used to expand the blocked coronary artery. The procedure was not successful despite repeated efforts. It was finally decided that surgery was the only option.
Farook was scheduled for surgery and the operation was performed on April 16, 2008 and on the 6th post operative day when he was found to be fit for discharge, Farook sat on his bed in the CTVS post operative ward narrating his story.
“I had good family support, all my brothers helped me financially and otherwise too”, said Farook, his mischievous smile a contrast to the scar peeping over the décolletage of his shirt. “We spent more than 40,000 rupees before coming to Baba.”
“How many children do you have?” I asked.
“Two”, replied his wife. “We have a son and a daughter. My son is in the 1st standard and my daughter, is in Lower KG.”
“How do you feel? Now that you have been given a fresh lease of life? What will you do now?” I asked panning my vision to take in the eyes of both man and wife.
Farook began in a very matter-of-fact. “First, for the next three months I will take good rest. Follow all the doctor’s orders and hence forth will never again touch non-vegetarian food or smoke. Then, I am planning to take up a less stressful vocation like a telephone kiosk, or set up a shop selling Cellphone SIM cards.”
Gaining More Than Just Good Health
For a second his eyes left mine and flicked up to the photo of Bhagawan Baba on the wall. He continued his voice, unchanged.
“For me Baba is Allah. He came to us in our hour of need. Nobody will do anything of this magnitude with such love and service to us outside. Believe me, I have been through it. Outside, unless I have money, I cannot even enter the hospital. Here Baba is giving everything free. I will go back and spread the message in my town.”
His words were simple and his expression unchanged. He spoke as though he had thought it all out and there was nothing that would induce him to change his mind. He had received the gift of life anew from a God who had answered his prayers. His life would be an offering of gratitude to him, period.
“Here we have full satisfaction” joined in his wife adding new warmth to the sun lit ward. “The doctors and nurses did not have any hesitation. We were completely informed about every thing all the time. All our questions were patiently answered. I have never seen such care anywhere else.”
Farook continued to smile as he added, “Once I recover, I will come back here as a sevadal. More than serving others, it is a chance for me to be happy.”
Small things make big things happen. It is said one cannot move ones finger without affecting the stars. We are all connected, one way or the other. There are no coincidences in God’s Plan. He has provided for everything, in fact, God’s delays are not God’s denials. It is only up to us how fast or how slow we walk towards our life’s goals. Let us all be grateful to whatever God we worship that we are able to see the sun rise, smell the fragrance of a fresh blossom, touch the innocence of a little child…be part of this world. To be alive.