“Ashtadhrumna, My name is Ashtadhrumna”, said the young lad.
“Quite good but quite old fashioned a name! By the way I am Kinshuk Kamat. You can call me KK. And…I will call u...Ashy if u don’t mind please. ”
“Sure Sir! So Sir, I guess u know why u have been approached by us.”
A smile appeared on KK’s face. He didn’t say anything, just nodded in affirmation and handed Ashtadhrumna a file. Ashtadhrumna too was intelligent enough to sense what the file contained.
“Sir, you are better than I imagined. I guess we can start working on it immediately.”
“Oh Boy, no! Not in an airport yaar! I had already been working in the plane too. I’ve got a list of 600 unknown ones.”
“Ah Sir! Of course I didn’t mean to be so immediate”, was the reply from a laughing Ashy.
They proceeded towards a hotel where Ashy sought leave from KK and told him that they would be meeting again in the evening at five.
“Bloody shit! This is the most frustrating period of my life. This man lying here is going to die in an hour and all I can do is consoling his family!”
“Cool down Ravi. You are a doctor and there will be numerous occasions when you will have to face such situations. This was only your third case!”
“He might be only a case for us Dr.Mehra but for those people sitting outside he is their only son whom they are going to lose in an hour. Doctors are also humans Dr.Mehra. Aren’t they?”
“Yes he is but there are 124 others too who are fighting against the same disease. You’ve got to remain calm and attend them too.”
Dr.Mehra walked away to another ward.
Dr. Kinshuk Kamat had four hours to rest but how could he? How could he rest when a new disease was spreading wings? 100 had died already and another 125 were on the verge of it. 31 of them had been admitted in the last 24 hours. He had heard of such a virus for the first time. This virus caused the Hepatic artery that carries oxygenated blood from the heart to the liver to swell and cut down the blood flow from 1.4 ltrs/min to just about 0.2 ltrs/min.Not only this, it also affected the hepatic duct and the hepatic as well as portal veins thus isolating the liver from the rest of the body resulting in accumulation of toxins. This disease was certainly more dangerous than even Hepatitis as it killed a man much faster. Dr.Kamat was busy copying numerous points from a book.
Ashtadhrumna arrived exactly at 5.
“I hope u had some rest Doc. Now you are needed at the hospital Sir.”
“Yeah sure. In fact I think we should really have started off at the airport itself. It’s a question of 125 lives and may be many more if we delay.”
“124 Sir! One of them died 3 hours ago”.
“I hate this profession. I really do.”
“Bloody hell! Ashta, Dr.Ravi! He is down with the same disease. He….He vomited a while ago and then complained about severe pain in the side”, shouted Dr.Kiran whose eyes spoke for themselves.
“What? Umm... u...u...take Dr.Kamat to the lab and I’ll see Dr.Ravi. “
“No! You can’t. Dr.Mehra has ordered everyone not to attend any patient at present for obvious reasons u see”.
“What? We docs are not supposed to attend our patients? See, I am prepared to live for another 48 hors only but doing my duty rather than live for years with guilt.”
“No Ashy! Presently it’s better to listen to her. You can lend me a helping hand in the Lab.”
“But Sir….” Ashtadhrumna’s words were cut short by a raised hand of Dr.KK.
“Ashy, how many specimens does AIIMS have?”
“We have 1783 specimens of viruses Sir.”
“Are you sure it’s a virus?”
“Yes Sir. Dr.Mehra confirmed it himself. In fact we have already matched it with all of them. No matches found sir. Not even a close case.”
“And you people expect me to do a miracle and not only recognize the virus but also find a cure in the next may be 48 hours or so? We have been working for over a decade on AIDS and haven’t found out any solid answer to it yet. How can you even think of …”
“All we want you is to try sir. You are the best. Best in the world. And so you are the only hope we have. You can take a decade to find the cure for this disease too but by that time we’ll have lost half the country.”
Dr.KK said nothing. He had to pull out a miracle.
Dr.Kiran entered the room in utter haste. “Ashta, Dr.KK, great news! We’ve found the root cause! A pharma company recently dumped a huge amount of chemical waste in an area that’s close to Yamuna. Actually this was a consignment of theirs that underwent a wrong process and was therefore of no more use. The waste was supposed to be biodegradable and non-toxic. But this waste seems to have had contained some substituent that caused the growth of this virus in that area. Now just a few days ago, the rain water somehow made a link between this waste dump and the river. Our water treatment plants could not do anything too you see. We have a sample of the waste ready for you to test.”
Dr.Kiran had not even finished when a ward boy entered a room with a tray that contained the samples of the waste along with some other reagents.
“That’s great news! Here, keep that here”, said a relatively more confident looking Dr. Kamat.
“Our suspicion was absolutely right. I’ve studied the virus as well as the waste sample. This virus is nothing but an evolved form of a common virus which we know as Ephicallimus. This may sound like the story of the evolution of Godzilla but it is true my friends. This virus has evolved because of the exposure of Ephicallimus to one of the constituents of the chemical waste. Which? I don’t know. What caused this evolution that too I don’t know. But what I know is that this virus feeds on bile juice and secretes a viscous liquid into the cells of liver causing them to swell out of proportions. Rest you all know. This is a communicable disease because this virus if somehow made to bring in contact with the skin can enter through the cells. And perhaps that’s what happened with Dr.Ravi I guess. Now, no vaccine can be prepared for this as even a small dosage of this virus is extremely fatal. I have not found out anything that can kill it or restrict its growth. This one seems to be resistant to the whole universe. It can be killed by heat though but it requires heating to about 750 K. That would kill the patient himself. Laser too can kill it but again it needs a concentrated beam and again the patient comes in danger. We can keep the patients alive for a few days by artificial extraction of waste from the liver but since even assimilation of food is not taking place the person is bound to die sooner or later. The only positive thing we have is ‘Hope’ my friends.”
Dr.Kamat’s speech left everyone shocked.
Dr.Kamat , Dr.Mehra and Dr.Ashtadhrumna spent the rest of the day searching for one chemical or one another virus that could counter this enemy of man but all in vain. The city authorities on the other hand had already been informed about the cause of the disease and the supply of Yamuna water had been stopped and people had been told not to use the Yamuna water they had in store but it was already too late. More than a million had already been using this water and how many were infected was hard to tell.
23 more cases were admitted in the next 7 hours. AIIMS was full to its capacity. Even other Hospitals reported a combined figure of about 500 patients. Time was running out and Dr.Kamat who had invented over 50 drugs and had found cure for over 20 fatal diseases was helpless.
The next day it was no different story.
“He will die within an hour.”
“So will the one on no.23.”
“No! I will not die. I have old parents and they can’t live without me. Dr.Mehra, Dr.Kiran, I will not die so easily. A silly little virus can’t kill me.”
“You… you are awake? Err…don’t worry Hasan, we won’t let you die.” Dr.Kiran tried to console the patient who had heard them. But she knew very well that this was only a consolation, a lie.
“Dr.Kamat ! We got it. Yes we got it. It’s working. How could we not test it on this?”
“What? What’s that? “
“Sugar Dr.Kamat, sugar! This bloody virus can’t take sugar.”
“Wait let me see.”
Dr.Kamat tested sugar on the virus that was kept in the vacuumed glass box in front of them. He also tested the parts in the body of a patient where the virus existed. After an hour of testing and checkup it was clear that Ashtadhrumna was right. The virus could be killed using sugar but it had to be sugar without any moisture and in its purest form. But that was a big problem. How to inject pure and solid sugar into the liver?
“I’ve got an idea”, said Dr.Kamat.
“See, we can’t inject any moisture but we can surely take it out. So take out all the water content from the liver. Doctors, we all forgot that God has gifted us with a great power called emotion. Make the patients excited. That would cause the flow of adrenaline and adrenaline liberates the sugar from the liver. Thus we can use the sugar content of the liver itself to cure the disease.”
“That’s a brilliant idea! You are a genius Dr.KK! Hurry up boys, fast, do as he said”, shouted Dr.Mehra.
The information that the disease could be cured was enough to cause the flow of adrenaline in the patients. The information was communicated to other hospitals as well. Once again man had been victorious over a great enemy and god had a great role to play in it.
“How did you find out it was sugar Ashy?”
“The credit goes to one of our patients doc. He didn’t want to die. His will to live was so great that he decided to fight the disease internally. He forcefully urinated and his will power was such that he succeeded. This caused all the water content of his liver to drip down to kidney and finally be excreted. Earlier he had also demanded for food and we provided him some glucose and sugar. Just after this we could see improvement in his condition. The improvement was drastic. This made me test glucose and sugar on the virus then and rest is history.”
“Surely he is our hero then. What’s his name?”
“Hasan sir. He kept saying- Yes, I want to live. Seemed as if he never knew ‘no’.”
“True! Even fortune favours the brave and he was indeed brave.”