Monday, June 24, 2013

The Gentle Giant!

I was about 10 years old when my father took me to an amusement park near JC nagar in Bangalore. Right at the entrance stood the tallest man I have ever seen.
Till that point in time I was absolutely sure that nobody in the world was taller or stronger than my father but then there was this man. Slightly startled and intimidated by his demeanor I stood at a distance. He beckoned to me but I ran away.

At the end of a thrilling day at the park I made my way to the entrance once again, the tallest man in the world was still there, it was December and the air was biting cold, he just stood there like a tree unhindered by the weather.
Father insisted that I shake hands with the man and he escorted me to him, I held up my shaky hands, he slowly stooped down, patted me on the back and gave me one of the warmest handshakes I have ever had in my life.

My tryst with tall people wasn’t over yet.

The next giant I met was my classmate and long time buddy Shashank Ballur, In spite of his towering height he was one of the gentlest people in the entire college, his voice was so soft that on most occasions he had to repeat himself. A man who stood up for what was right no matter what everyone else felt, His presence at any event within or outside the campus was very reassuring for the rest of us.


Dr. Shashank 'Tall'-ur !
16 years after the incident at the amusement park, on an unassuming Monday afternoon I saw another tall man strolling through the corridors of the hospital where I work.

He wore blue jeans with a black shirt, the long sleeves of which were folded up to the elbows; his white coat fit him so tightly that the seams appeared to be on the verge of tearing. His hair was neatly combed in the front and he kept to himself, doing his work without complaining.

While most of us were convinced that he was a newly appointed doctor at the hospital, some felt they needed to get their eyes checked.
On making some enquiries I found out that he was the latest addition to our efficient nursing workforce. 

I met him again in the general ward, he was quietly dispensing the afternoon dose of medicines to the patients, most of whom were swallowing their drugs without any resistance.

“So what’s your name”? I asked him.

 “Shibin Sam sir”. he replied politely.

His voice was steady, heavy and with a loud baritone (Exactly the way I imagined it).
Great ! A fellow Mallu. This is going to be good, I thought to myself.

“Evide aa naadu”. (Where are you from?) I asked him in Malayalam.

He smiled, he face immediately lit up.

“Sir Malayali aano”? (Are you also a Malayali?) He asked.

“Ade.” (Yes) I replied, and I patted him on his shoulder.

Trust me; it was like hitting a huge rock.

That was my first interaction with Shibin Sam, the tallest man in a 10 km radius from where I work.

Thanks to his height, Hercules like body and obvious good looks his popularity spread like wildfire, everyone wanted to know more about the giant with the baby face roaming through the halls in the hospital.

We developed a great rapport over the days that followed, our conversations were very funny, he humbly accepted the many jokes we cracked, most of which were aimed at his physique and in return he retaliated with funny one liners and cheeky anecdotes.
Picking a fight with the wrong guy !!!
We wanted him in the cathlab; his sole responsibility would be to shift the patients on and off the table with his bare hands.

He turned out to be a God fearing, Shy and hard working person with large measures of politeness, professionalism and courteousness embedded within him.
Shibin in his younger days !!!
Just when I thought I knew everything that had to be known about the man, I saw a completely different side to him.

It was 7.30 in the evening, I was still at work, a particularly eventful day had gone by and I was just winding up my activities when the phone rang.

“Please come to the male ward sir”, the anxious voice of Parmesh another staff nurse resounded at the other end of the phone. “A patient is very breathless.” He said

I picked up my steth from the OPD and rushed to the 5th floor of the hospital.

When I saw a relative of the patient I was about to attend to sitting outside the ward in tears I knew there was something seriously wrong.

I entered the ward with a pounding heart, I saw Shibin atop the patient’s bed giving him CPR as parmesh ventilated him with a bag and mask.

The patient had just had a cardiac arrest.

No time to waste, I gave orders to shift the patient to the ICCU.

The bed was rushed to the elevator, Shibin didn’t stop the cardiac massage, He relentlessly compressed the patient’s chest even as we moved through the corridors that led to the intensive coronary care unit.

Being a ward nurse I expected Shibin to hand over the patient to the ICU staff and leave but he didn’t, He made sure to see that our team of doctors including me had all the medicines and equipment we needed. To this day I believe that if not for his effort and dedication the patient wouldn’t have made it alive that day.

Its funny how easily we tend to assess someone by one aspect that sets them apart, we can spend a whole lifetime that way till we see the complete spectrum that defines who a person really is, and what they are capable off.

I can quote numerous examples ranging from Samson the famous Biblical character to Little John- Robin Hood's closest aide and our very own Amitabhji, all gigantic but extremely lovable people just like my two friends.

Today Shibin is one of my most trusted staff in the hospital and I can’t wait to see what this 'Gentle Giant' has in store for us next.

P.S we found a way to correct the height mismatch between us-
Look who is taller now?
Until next time.

TGV