I’ve been telling Manoj’s story for the past two weeks. The accident, the driver who attempted to flee, the failed negotiations as we tried to get him to pay for Manoj’s medical care, the mounting hospital bills . . . all grim, all overwhelming in their awfulness.
Today, the story is of ripples and side-effects.
Manoj is still in the hospital, still in a coma, still in intensive care. But he is off the ventilator! His brain is telling his lungs: “Breathe in! Breathe out!” We count our blessings now in tiny, measured steps. We are remembering how precious each breath is.
Manoj’s brother Ravinder, his friends Raj and Ashok, his nephews Mahipal and Sandeep – they have all been pillars of strength and models of loyalty and support. They have lived at the hospital in turns since the accident, running hither and yon for blood and medicines, ferrying food and blankets, keeping watch, holding vigil.
Manoj’s wife Rakhi is holding her own, caring for their tiny little 23-day old daughter. Her name is Simran, and it means the “Memory of God.”
Manoj’s friends and colleagues in the Foundation remember God every day. They pray for him and they are storming Heaven’s Gates with their pleas that he be restored to health and to them.
As Manoj’s hospital bills mount, support continues to flow in from friends around the world: from the US, Canada, the UK, France, Australia and all over India . . . today I learned that the staff and parents at the EIC have raised nearly 50,000 rupees – bringing our current total to over 250,000.
Even the lawyer we consulted – Subhash Virmani, one of the most senior and respected advocates in Dehradun – has gotten into the act: “Arre,” he said gently when we asked about his fee. “How can I charge this poor chap when you are doing so much for him?”
And in what must be the most proactive response to the crisis yet, hearing Manoj’s story, a doctor friend has bought medical insurance for his entire staff – inspiring us to do the same for ours.
We would not wish this evil on anyone. But good can come out of anything. Manoj’s tragedy has forced us to stop and ponder the meaning of life, to remember that we are all mortal and that this life is tenuous and precarious and that what happened to him could happen to any of us. We are driving more carefully. We are stopping youngsters we see riding without helmets and telling them Manoj’s story. We are giving thanks for the love and generosity of friends around the world.
We are remembering to breathe in, breathe out. We are counting our blessings. We are rejoicing in our friends, in their devotion, in their generosity. Breathing, breathing. Come on, Manoj. We are breathing you back to this life: to this one wild and precious life . . .