The Promise

barathonFinally, a Doctor

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism*“,  he declared, and went on to recite the rest of the Hippocratic Oath* with confidence and pride. It was a big day. He was finally Dr.Ram.

He was scheduled to leave the following day to start work at a government hospital located in one of the remote areas of Tamil Nadu. The belt was infamous for its phases of political unrest and events that followed such eruptions.  But he was confident that it would have no bearing on his job as a doctor and the service he intended to carry out for those who needed it.

6 months later – 2:00AM. A Government Hospital, Remote coastal Tamil Nadu

Dr.Ram rushed to  check the pulse of the bleeding girl who had just been brought into the emergency ward.

“Don’t you dare start treating her”, threatened a bunch of burly goons as they entered the ward, brandishing knives at him while one of them toyed with a gun. Much to the doctor’s horror, the nurses and the paramedics scampered away in fear for their lives.They had witnessed such scenes before.

“But, her throat has been slit…she will die in a matter of minutes!”, the doctor tried to reason calmly.

“Enna Saar….?(What Sir…?)”, ” Are you so sincere to your profession that you can’t take a break every now and then?”, declared the police inspector walking into the emergency ward.

Dr.Ram looked surprised and confused. He had heard of corrupt cops, but he finally understood what it meant.

“Just sign the death certificate stating that she was dead on arrival and I will take care of the rest…”, drawled the inspector, casually spitting out the remnants of the paan he had been chomping upon on the clean walls of the ward.

The woman on the stretcher grabbed Ram’s pockets, which was the only thing she could reach out to, from her position. He held her hands in an assuring manner.

Pannalana?? (And if I don’t?)”,  Ram challenged the inspector.

“Hmmm…”, said the inspector, his voice laced with less enthusiasm than before. “You see her, lying on the stretcher?  She is a journalist…out to save the world like yourself! She filmed us as we trafficked young girls from the slums, to places on the world map you haven’t even heard of!”

“First we destroyed her camera, and then it was her turn.  Now, here she is, wishing death would come fast!”, laughed one of the men, while he cleaned a dirt finger nail with a knife.

“You disgust me!”, spat Ram.

“Why are we wasting our time with him?”, interjected another goon pointing the aruval* at Ram. “Let’s finish him off”, he smiled as the man holding the gun thrusted its barrel against Ram’s temples.

“Doctor, what you don’t get is that if you refuse to sign, we will find someone else to do so. But we will make sure that you join our journalist friend on her journey to heaven!” finished the inspector

The girls hands dropped from his pockets bringing Ram’s attention back to her. She was dead. In all the time  he had spent trying to negotiate with the mob, she had moved on.

“Now, you have no problems…dead on arrival. It is not such big a lie…”, smiled the inspector. “The MLA will be very happy with you. Infact,  if you want to request a transfer he will make sure it is passed without any hassles”, he continued.

2:30 AM

They make us take oaths that we cannot uphold“, thought Ram to himself as he recalled the lines he had recited with much happiness on the day he was declared a doctor. He watched the backs of the goons and the inspector as they left the hospital with his signature on the death certificate. DOA / Dead on Arrival, it lied in big bold letters.

He turned around to look at the lifeless form of Suchitra – She must have been some woman,  to taken on these kind of vermins!”, he thought. He absent mindedly put his hands inside his pockets and was momentarily distracted by something his fingers had touched.

Ram smiled, as he pulled out a tiny SD card from his pocket. Apparently even the prospect of death, had not deterred Suchitra’s attempt to cleanse out diseases worse than than cancer.

“At least,  this is a promise that I can keep”, he whispered.  Her death was only the beginning.

 Today’s Prompt: Promises

* Notes:

  • Hippocratic Oath – The oath is typically taken by doctors and physicians about to embark a career in medicine. Refer to the wiki page. I also found this interesting page that talks in detail about the oath and the modern Indian doctor
  • Nihilism – Refer to the link to understand the complete meaning of this word.
  • Aruval – A type of sickle commonly used in Tamil Nadu
  • I have used some tamil words in the story. The translation immediately follows the words in brackets
  • This short story is entirely fictional. It has been inspired based on what we as the public hear about corrupt government officials some of the scary stories and events that make it to the newspapers.


  1. That’s a story of true courage and wonderfully told too. I do hope Suchitra’s is vindicated in death.

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