Kanyakubja* Revisited... A short story

The Resident Medical Officer on duty in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at the Sardar Patel Memorial Hospital, Delhi, had just finished writing his notes. He looked up and found the young staff nurse looking at something behind him, lost in thought. He turned around to follow her gaze. He then turned back and smiled at her. Nurse Sheela blinked and noticed the doctor looking at her. She smiled back wanly and sighed.‘I’d give him until tomorrow morning. Afternoon, tops.’ The doctor turned back again and looked at the patient on Bed No. 10.‘And I think it’ll be for the ultimate good of everyone in general, and him in particular,’ He continued.Nurse Sheela grimaced. ‘Aren’t you being a little cold-hearted, Dr Gupta? It’s such a waste of a young life. Dying of drug abuse…’ She shivered involuntarily.Dr Gupta smiled, ‘Trust me. With Dhananjay, it was just a question of time…’Nurse Sheela looked at him in surprise, ‘You know him?’‘Since childhood.’ Dr Gupta continued. ‘Dhananjay and I lived on the same street. We even went to the same school and college together.Dr Gupta shook his head and continued, ‘His story is in a way, a sad one. Dhananjay was born into an affluent business family. His parents were well respected. And religious too. They had built the Radha-Shyamasundar Temple in Vasant Vihar. They died in a car accident when Dhananjay was just 6 years old. He grew up under the supervision of his uncle who didn’t care much for him.Then the usual story. Lots of money attracting bad company. Alcohol, drugs. Fast bikes, faster women. He’s been in trouble with the law a number of times. There isn’t anything wrong that he hasn’t done or tried out. In short, not exactly the kind of boy a mother would want her daughter to be seen with…’Dr Gupta leaned back and settled comfortably in his chair, preparing to take a nap. ‘It’s a good thing, there’s no other patient in the ICU. I’m dog tired. I’m looking forward to getting a bit of shut-eye tonight. By the way, our orders regarding Bed no.10 are very clear. He’s a DNR. So if he arrests again, don’t bother waking me up. We’ll finish the paperwork in the morning. No point in everyone losing their sleep over him. Like I said… with such guys, there’s no hope. They’re better off dead!’Dr Gupta lay back and closed his eyes.Nurse Sheela looked across at Dhananjay Singh and pondered over what Dr Gupta had said.D-N-R...meaning...Do Not Resuscitate. But despite what she had heard about Dhananjay Singh, she couldn’t help feel a pang of sorrow when she looked at his silent, still form.The amber fluid dripped rhythmically into the chamber of one of the intravenous tubes that had been affixed to his body. The numerous monitors by his side beeped their signals faithfully conveying the ominous condition of his various bodily systems.His heart had stopped on two occasions, but had been jolted back into working again by the defibrillator. Now under the influence of the powerful drugs coursing through his veins, it continued to impassively pump his pale blood to the different organs in his drug-ravaged body. His lungs seemed slightly better off, being assisted by the mechanical ventilator. His brain had been declared more or less dead by the doctors, apart from a few spurts of activity on the electroencephalogram; its sensitive tissues having finally succumbed to the terrible effects of cocaine.He was alive, but just barely so…It was dark. Pitch dark. ‘DADDY!!!...MUMMY!!!’ He could hear himself scream. But there was no answer. He wiped the pelting rain from his face and stumbled over the burning pieces of metal and rubber that lay strewn on the street. Approaching the car, he peered inside the car to look for his parents. He looked at their faces and heard himself scream again.But it wasn’t him screaming. He looked around. Suddenly, he was in his hostel room. His friends were screaming in tune with the ear-shattering heavy-metal music. He could see his friends offering him a joint and laughing loudly. He accepted it and danced his way through the dense fog of cigarette-marijuana smoke. He sat down on a stool and loaded a shot. The best cocaine in the market, his supplier had promised him. He pushed the needle into his vein and depressed the plunger of the syringe. He heard himself screaming in joy.But he suddenly realized that the voice was not his own. It was a woman’s voice. She was lying under his nude body, in a similar condition and screaming with pleasure. But who was she? He tried to focus on her face through the mist. She looked familiar. Was she Rita, or Sophie or…Mumtaz perhaps..? Or was she the call-girl he had picked up at the bar..?The mist suddenly cleared as the cold wind whipped his face. He was racing along the street on his 250cc bike. The girl behind him was urging him to drink from the bottle of vodka that she had brought close to his lips. He turned to do so and…THHUMMPPPP!! He jerked his head around in time to see the old woman he had just hit collapse on the road in a pool of blood. He heard a scream again. Was it the old woman?No. It was the police inspector slapping him hard on the face, screaming at him in anger. He struggled to sit up straight in the chair to which he was tied, and looked around. He found himself within the dull grey stone walls of the jail-house. He tried to remember what was happening and looked up at the dim light on the ceiling. Just in time to see the policeman swinging his fist towards his face. Then everything went black.Nurse Sheela opened her eyes and looked at Bed no.10. She had been distracted by the sudden change in the tone and rhythm of the beeps from the machines. They resumed their status after a minute and she sat back and closed her eyes.This time he was certain. It was his own voice. A horrendous, blood-curdling scream of terror, unlike anything he had heard before. He was screaming with fear. And for a good reason. For now on the dark distant horizon, he could see forms of creatures he had never seen before. Faces and bodies with the most terrible features. And he began to watch in hopeless terror as they began to advance towards him in slow motion, beckoning him with grotesque grins and gestures.Nurse Sheela moved towards the patient on Bed no.10. She was concerned. Despite her instructions, she had been drawn to him by the sudden sounds of the alarms that had been set off in the monitoring systems. She had had been a nurse long enough to recognize their grave significance. She looked back at Dr Gupta. He waved his hand impatiently indicating her to switch off the sounds. Then he plugged his ears with his fingers dramatically and went back to sleep. She reluctantly switched off the sounds of the alarm systems on the monitors and stood by the side of the patient for a while.It would be a matter of minutes, maybe seconds before they would reach him. He turned to look behind him. The last memory in his life, when he had taken that final fatal dose of cocaine was slowly fading into the distance. He smiled to himself and sighed. He now knew their purpose of those creatures. With a life-story like his, it was no wonder to him now that they were coming for him. He sat down and looked at them approaching. He wondered if remorse would be of any help at this point. He had lived a life of sin. Until the end. Remorse would not save him now. He might as well await their arrival.They were a few metres from him when he first heard it. At first, a faint whisper, it slowly grew louder. He turned round to see its origin for it seemed to come from behind him. Through a hazy mist, he began to make out a small boy with a familiar face, standing with his parents by his side, in a temple. It was himself, he realized, when he was 5 years old. A memory from his very early childhood. Something he had completely forgotten. But what had caused him to remember it now?The boy stood with his hands folded and his lips were moving. The boy’s voice though was unfamiliar, for it was a feminine one, but the words that emanated from the boys lips seemed vaguely familiar. With passing time, the sound slowly rose to a crescendo and filled his ears, then his entire being and everything around him. Slowly he found himself intonating the same words Hare…Krishna…Hare…Krishna…As he continued to chant, he felt an explained peace descend upon him. His despair began to drain away. A feeling of exhilaration and bliss began to fill inside him.Then he remembered those creatures and turned around. The Yama-dutas would have closed upon him by now. And he stood frozen in shock.For the Yama-dutas were gone.To his astonishment, the darkness had disappeared and in its place was an glaring effulgence, as though a thousand suns had suddenly appeared from nowhere! He shaded his eyes and squinted in order to see the sight. And what a sight!Numerous four-armed Beings, so beautiful that they could only be Celestial in origin; the colour of the first monsoon cloud, wearing garlands of fresh lotuses, glittering in their yellow garments and jewelery. They surrounded him on all sides in their hundreds and thousands; each more effulgent than the other! Their eyes shone with divine compassion and their captivating smiles rendered him incapable of saying or doing anything. Tears streamed down his face in torrents as an ocean of emotions overcame him. He folded his hands in prayer and sank to the ground.The sounds of conch shells and bells filled the air and the chanting of the Mahamantra grew louder and louder. Moments later, the effulgence grew brighter and brighter until he passed out in ecstasy...Dr Gupta was rudely awakened from his sleep by the staff nurse on duty.The patient on Cot no.10 had opened his eyes…EpilogueOne Year Later…‘Excuse me, are you Nurse Sheela?’The handsome gentleman asked one of the staff nurses at the Nurse’s Station.‘No, I’m Nurse Priti. This is Nurse Sheela’ The staff nurse gestured to her partner who looked at him in surprise.Then Nurse Priti’s eyes widened, ‘Gosh, aren’t you Mr Dhananjay Singh, who was admitted here last year for…’ The staff nurse was too embarrassed to complete her question.The gentleman smiled and completed it for her, ‘Drug overdose. Yes, I am. Actually, I have come because I wanted to thank you all for taking care of me when I was here. I was not able to visit you all since I was discharged from here.’Nurse Priti gushed, ‘Oh, you’re most welcome. We’re glad we could be of help. Your miracle recovery was all over the news for many weeks. But…how come…’Mr Dhananjay Singh smiled, ‘Actually, upon my discharge, I underwent a rigorous rehabilitation program and became free from drug-addiction. I am now known as Nityananda Das and I am a full time devotee at the Radha-Shyamasundar Temple. I have been able to start a program for the rehabilitation of drug-addicts through Krishna Consciousness. We have already helped in the reformation of about 20 such people till date….’‘Amazing!!’ Nurse Sheela was impressed. ‘But tell me, what is the secret of your success, Mr Singh. How could you make this miraculous recovery to good health, get rehabilitated and attain the position that you are in today?’‘Chanting the Holy Name of Lord Krishna, I guess. Ever since I came out of coma, I was filled with an inexplicable desire to chant His Holy Name. I have not yet been able to figure out why that is so. But the Hare Krishna Mahamantra can work miracles, believe me! And I was fortunate to get the association of Devotees; who taught me the art of living. And of course Lord Krishna’s Mercy without which nothing in this world is possible.Anyway, thank you, once again.’Mr Singh smiled and left.Late that night, she stood gazing at the young face of the patient lying comatose on the bed in front of her. She smiled and thought to herself, ‘You are so right Nityananda Prabhu, the Mahamantra can indeed work miracles!’Then as she was used to doing with every critical patient in her care, Nurse Sheela, or Vishakha Devi Dasi as she was also known, closed her eyes and began to chant, ‘Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare…’*Kanyakubja was a town where the story of Ajamila took place. This beautiful story is told in the Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 6, Chapter 1 Verse 21 onwards.In short, the story is as follows (as given by Srila Prabhupada in the Summary of Chapter 1, Canto 6.) I quote:"Ajamila was a resident of Kanyakubja (the modern Kanauj). He was trained by his parents to become a perfect brahmana by studying the Vedas and following the regulative principles, but because of his past, this youthful brahmana was somehow attracted by a prostitute, and because of her association he became most fallen and abandoned all regulative principles. Ajamila begot in the womb of the prostitute ten sons, the last of whom was called Narayana. At the time of Ajamila’s death, when the order carriers of Yamaraja came to take him, he loudly called the name Narayana in fear because he was attached to his youngest son. Thus he remembered the original Narayana, Lord Vishnu. Although he did not chant the holy name of Narayana completely offenselessly, it acted nevertheless. As soon as he chanted the holy name of Narayana, the order carriers of Lord Vishnu immediately appeared on the scene. A discussion ensued between the order carriers of Lord Vishnu and those of Yamaraja, and by hearing that discussion Ajamila was liberated. He could then understand the bad effect of fruitive activities and could also understand how exalted is the process of devotional service."
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  • its another master piece prabhuji...truly inspiring....
  • yes indeed as mataji said prabhuji is blessed by krishna my hair stood on end(romancha) as i read prabhuji's story.i have read all of ur story prabhuji.i regularly await for reading ur wonderful blogs
  • Beautiful!!!! Mindd blowing story!!! Prabhuji.....u r empowered by krishna!!!Pls can i talk to u...i wanted to ask u something...haribol
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