Sunday, January 20, 2013

The blue pill - 14

(This is the concluding part of the short story The Blue Pill. You can find the entire story here.)

(One year later)

Dr. Roy woke up to the sounds of chirping birds. It was about 6:30. He quickly freshened up and made his way to the cottage next to his house. The patients were still sleeping. The nurses signaled that everything was all right with a thumbs up. Dr. Roy smiled.

Dr. Roy made himself some black tea and sat in the lawn of his house by the River Beas in Jagatsukh, a small town close to Manali in Himachal Pradesh, North India, sipping it slowly. What a year it had been! After their literal escape from the US with Nambiar, Dr. Roy had learnt more and more about the web of deceit that Babylon had woven around him. They never had any intention of bringing his device to market. It was all a ploy to destroy whatever chance there was of it reaching patients. The clinical trial was designed to fail as some of the Babylon staff that were a part of the team sabotaged the entire project.

When the three of them flew back to India after narrowly escaping the attempt on his life, Dr. Roy led a very low-profile life. Nambiar convinced him that any attempt at getting the device to market would be futile as Babylon and its muscle power would never allow that to happen. Legally, they would stop at nothing since they had the rights to the device. What could a small doctor do all by himself?

Nambiar and he then made a plan. They would assemble the devices themselves, one at a time. They would identify a small set of patients who could afford the cost and those who would really benefit from it - young adults diagnosed with CKD, who were dialysis dependent and were not candidates for a kidney transplant. They designed a month-long training program for these patients. The entire operation was shrouded in secrecy. They spread the word among their closest friends in nephrology circles. They got a few names. Candidates were interviewed over video conference and those found suitable would sign waivers and only then be recruited for this project. They had them travel to Jagatsukh and trained them to use the device. Everyone would do daily nocturnal dialysis using the device. 

The results were fantastic. At the end of the training program, the patients had tears in their eyes. They had got their life back. They realized that with this device they could lead lives they were meant to live. They could work, travel, have fun. For the first time since they had been diagnosed with kidney disease did they feel truly free.

Dr. Roy and Nambiar couldn’t have asked for anything better. They decided to make this an annual project. They would be in Delhi the rest of the year. During the two months of summer, they would travel to Jagatsukh and train a new set of patients on the device. 

Dr. Roy continued to make small improvements to the device.

During their summer reveries in Jagatsukh, Dr. Roy and Nambiar, over an evening round of whiskey, would often talk about how the power of money has obscured everything in the world today. “Karl Torrance is not a bad man by himself. He is just a pawn in the entire corporate world that exists today. In the name of being answerable to shareholders and having a moral obligation to them, many people often lose sight of basic human values.”

Dr. Roy concurred. “We don’t realize it but money controls everything in the world today. Very few people recognize this and break free from the shackles of money. Even you and I, Nambiar, to some extent are slaves of money. Why don’t we leave Delhi and settle down in Jagatsukh? Why can’t we treat more patients? It is because of money. The grip that it has over all of us is so dangerous. The worst part is we have no clue about this. We all have our justifications. We all think we are doing what we truly want. But in reality, we are all actually being totally controlled by money.”

Nambiar nodded helplessly. It was true. Dr. Roy had realized something that few of us understand. A small number of people are living a truly independent life - true to basic human values, true to basic ethics, true to their conscience, true to themselves. Few people live lives fully aware of the reality. The rest of us live lives which are considered 'normal'. Surprisingly, this 'normal' life is the one that is so unnatural. We get so convinced about this 'normalcy' that we truly believe that this is really 'normal'.

Dr. Roy and Nambiar thought hard about this. The only noise heard in the background was that of the clear waters of the gushing river Beas.


Thrinath Chakravarthy Jalamadugu said...

Kamal! The story is exciting and the drama unfolded very neatly. Is this is it?

I was still expecting some more story. What happened of taking the device to the larger audience? Does such a high profiled org. babylon and karl give up so easily on matter that can shatter their business dreams and crores of investments?

Kamal D Shah said...

Yes, this is the last part Thrinath! Thanks for the feedback.

Dr. Roy and Nambiar decided to keep the whole project low key so as not to attract the attention of Babylon. That way at least some patients would benefit. Babylon either did not get to know of this or they knew about it and felt as long as the device had no risk of spoiling their business, it was ok. I am not sure which!

Thrinath Chakravarthy Jalamadugu said...

But, why is the story named "blue pill" ?

Kamal D Shah said...


Kamal D Shah said...

Basically, most of us have taken the blue pill Thrinath. We are living in a world where we believe we are doing what we want. However, many of us are doing what people expect us to do. We are doing things which we don't really want to do but because everyone around us is doing it! That is what I believe, at least!

Kartik said...

Yeah, the name immediately reminded me of The Matrix :)