Wednesday, February 16, 2005
My tsunami jottings are the product of a rusty memory... but here they will be anyway.
I had just about wrapped up the shoot at the Government Hospital in Nagapattinam when I ran into two young men wandering about with a box of syringes in their hands. Relief workers, they were. They came up to me and in conspiratorial tones said, they had just seen some dead bodies being buried on the hospital premises and requested I bring this to the notice of the hospital authorities. Since I hadn’t seen anything of the sort, I certainly wasn’t going to take these two strangers for their word. So I told them, I’d introduce them to the Regional Medical Officer (RMO) and they could make the complaint themselves. That way, id be assured that they weren’t lying and would then be able to confidently ask the RMO what the blazes was going on. But my two young friends didn’t seem to like the idea, saying they feared persecution. “You are in the press, so if you say it, nobody can harm you”, was their refrain. And a common refrain it is too. In this instance it struck me as being rather lily-livered. It gave me pleasure then to force the two into doing the job themselves.
The RMO, who, just a few minutes before, had been eagerly showing me the devastation in the hospital in the hope that it would draw the kind attention of wealthy donors, happened to be passing by. I flagged him down saying two young people wanted to make a complaint. Two things shocked me. First, the complete lack of spine displayed by the young chap… because all he could manage was some garbled account of what he had seen which ended with him asking the RMO if there was anything wrong in his disclosing it to me! And the second was the attitude employed by the officer. His first reaction was to rubbish the complaint, second was to stoutly say “nothing of the sort is happening” and the third was to simply turn around and march off. Sometimes we deserve such officers.
Posted by Alaphia Zoyab at Wednesday, February 16, 2005