Monday, May 08, 2006


Gopal stared expectantly at Raman. There was a slight smile on his face.
"Is everything alright, Raman?"

Dr. Raman was known for telling the truth, which is why all the patients went to him. How could he lie now, even if it were his best friend on the death bed?

"It all depends on God."

Raman's wife started howling when she heard this.
"Please, please don't say that."

She pulled him aside and begged him to say the truth!
"Just tell him once that he will be alright and he will be!"

Raman just pushed her away, he had told the truth. His friend wouldn't survive. she was trying to fight his thirty years of medical experience. Nobody could survive a third heart-attack. He stood at the door and stared at the sky, not even for a minute did he think that this time there might acually be some hope.

"Raman", Gopal called, "Please call the lawyer. I need to change my will, you about my family problems, don't you?"

Raman held his hand. "I will", he said. He called his assistant and asked him to get the lawyer.

Gopal looked at his friend again.
"Raman, please say that I will survive. I don't want to leave my wife and children alone! help me live!"

Raman ran out with tears in his eyes.
"Why can't Gopal accept the truth?" He thought. It is difficult, but it is the truth.

The lawyer came and changed the will. Raman had said that there will another stroke at two in the morning. Gopal was waiting for it to be two. He had waited patiently for one and a half hours, constantly thinking whether Raman was really speaking the truth.

"But he is a doctor, he knows evrything." He thought. "My hopes are false hopes."
He looked at Ganpathy's photo on the wall. "Please God, please say that he is wrong."
But he is the doctor said his mind. The clock struck two, the stroke came as expected.

Gopal's wife prayed for his life, expecting him to die. Gopal tried to fight the stroke, but his mind told him that he was going to die, Raman had confirmed it. So he gave up fighting.

Raman had kept the pandit ready. His assistants were also ready for the 'last rites' with the tubes. They heaved a sigh of relief, it was their turn to do the job. Raman cried, but was happy that his prediction was just perfect as usual.

Gopal's truth was different and Raman never thought of it, nor did Gopal. How could Gopal, the doctor had given his word.
(please refer to R.K Narayan's 'Malgudi Days'for the original version of the story, called 'The Doctor's word'.)