Dear Young Friends,
Here is a touching short story contributed by one of our readers,
A MOTHER'S SMILE
This happened a long time back. I used to
be only a doctor then.
As soon as I entered the Mother Theresa Memorial Hospital,
the smell of disinfectants greeted me. The familiar scenes
- nurses and the ward boys hurrying about their daily duties,
sick people sitting patiently, waiting to meet the doctors
- filled my mind. Cries of some patient crying out in pain
in some ward welcomed me to the day's work.
Within six months of joining the Hospital, I had got used
to all these smells, sights and sounds. They seemed normal
to me. They no longer disturbed me as they had during my learning
Yet in the six months there was one thing I had not got
used to. It was the framed photo of Mother Theresa that hung
from the wall opposite the entrance of the Hospital. It was
the familiar photograph of the Mother that smiled at all who
came to the hospital. Yet there was something more to that
wrinkled, smiling face. Perhaps it was something in those
eyes that had caught my fancy. Certainly there was something
in them. Were they tears? No
.not possibly. Or maybe
they were, because the eyes looked so sad, ..so
express that feeling in words. Just that they made me feel
uneasy. But I could not avoid them. Every time I entered the
hospital, inspite of myself, my eyes would fall on the framed
photograph and my eyes would meet those eyes. And then the
same feeling of
yes, maybe guilt would overcome
me. Perhaps I was imagining. But those eyes continued to haunt
me for all those six months.
That morning it was no different. I came to the hospital
and as soon as I entered, I saw the photograph. I shook off
that uneasy feeling and walked to my office. I put on my white
coat, placed my stethoscope around my neck and went towards
I went about my daily business
- seeing the patients, checking their progress, telling the
nurses the prescriptions, encouraging the patients, talking
to the patient's family members - and returned to my office.
Then there was a bit of paperwork to finish. After that I
had to handle the outpatient department for the rest of my
At the end of the day, I was a bit tired. As I was preparing
to go home, a ward boy came to my door with an envelope. Inside
was my cheque for the services
that I rendered to the hospital. With the envelope in my hand,
I walked out of the hospital. And as I walked out, I could
somehow feel those eyes gazing at my back.
As I was driving home, I was contemplating on my life. Since
childhood I wanted to serve the society. So I worked very
hard and overcame many obstacles to become a doctor. I had
accomplished my dream, for I felt that there was no better
way of serving the society than curing the sick. I was doing
well as a doctor. I was serving a lot of people. At the same
time I was able to keep my family happy. What more could anyone
Yet something was missing in my life. I could not tell what
it was. But somewhere deep in my heart, I knew that I was
not really happy.
As my car turned into the National Highway, I could hear someone
shouting. A little further I saw a group of people standing
while a woman was running up and down the road, shouting something
at each vehicle as it passed her. As I slowed down, she ran
up to my open window. She was a poor woman, possibly a beggar.
She wore a dirty and torn sari. Her dry hair fell over her
eyes, which were filled with tears that flowed down her soiled
As she came towards my window I could hear her crying out
something I could not understand. She was pointing towards
the group of people standing nearby. In the fading light I
could make out the body of a young boy lying sprawled beside
the road, near the onlookers. As I went near, I saw that the
boy was bathed in blood. I guessed that some speeding vehicle
would have hit the boy and the culprit would have driven away
in haste leaving behind the poor victim to die. Those standing
around were poor people who could not have helped. And those
who could have were too busy. And here was a poor mother begging
of me to save her child.
I looked at the boy who was in great pain. Possibly he had
some broken bones and some internal bleeding. I could see
that his situation was critical. And if he did not receive
medical attention immediately he would die here on the road,
with his mother looking on helplessly. I could feel the poor
lady's agony as she wailed, beating her chest and head with
I knew that no hospital would readily accept this case, as
the boy was in a very critical condition. And it would involve
the police too. I also knew that if the boy were not admitted,
he would surely die. I still don't know what made me do that,
but in a few minutes I was driving back to my hospital with
the boy and his mother in the back seat.
When I reached the hospital, the nurse and the doctor on duty
were shocked to see the condition of the boy. As they stood
there speechless, I told the doctor, "Admit him."
." ,he mumbled. He looked at the boy
and then at me and said, "Sir, I do not think it is advisable."
I looked straight into his eye with my anger rising inside
me. "Give me one good reason why."
He avoided my eyes and said, "Sir,
This boy will die
"It is a doctor's duty to see that he does not",
I told even more angrily than before.
This time it was the nurse who spoke. "But sir,
who will pay for the treatment?"
I sharply turned towards her and said, "I will. Admit
They did not have anything more to say. They mutely followed
I personally attended to the boy. After we had done the
first aid, and given him blood, I had the other tests carried
out. All that took a lot of time. It was well past midnight
when I administered some medicines and had the boy put to
sleep. The whole thing had taken several hours but I was not
feeling tired. I fact I was happy to see the boy resting peacefully.
I was about to leave the ward when the boy's mother came to
me. She was saying something. There were still tears in her
eyes. I told her, through gestures that her son was now fine
and out of danger. I told her not to make noise as the boy
was sleeping. She stopped weeping and wiped her tears. I gestured
as I told her that she could take him home in a few days.
But she was not looking at me. She was looking at her son
and wiping her face with her soiled sari. As I walked away,
she just looked at me and smiled. There was something in her
smile. I could not understand it. It was beautiful beyond
I managed to smile back. As I was going,
I just looked back, once more, to see the sleeping boy and
his mother, who was now at the door of the ward, looking longingly
at her son.
When I got to the entrance of the hospital, I wished the nurse
a good night. She wanted to say something. I waited.
" She was groping for words. "Sir,
asked me to tell you about the bill
I silently walked out to the car, picked out the envelope
that I had received in the morning, and went back and gave
it to the lady. She stared at the envelope.
"Take the whole amount of the treatment from here."
She looked at me with remorse in her eyes. "Sir!",
she said. I smiled in reply and turned and walked away.
As I was about to leave, something made me turn back. And
my eyes fell on the photograph of Mother Theresa.
And there she was. And on her face was an unmistakable smile.
Well, the tears too were there. But that smile
beautiful beyond description.
That night changed my life. I could not
be just a doctor from then on.
Today I am trying to be like the Mother.