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My mother is watching and smiling.

India, Jan. 17 -- Loss of my mother brought me closer to my father last week. I wanted to do everything possible for him even those few things that irritated me the most. Like his dependence on the government-run CGHS (Central Government Health Services) doctors and dispensaries.

Umpteen number of times I had told him to stop standing in a queue for medicines that could be purchased from the market. But he thought it was a waste of money, especially when government provides for medical care for government servants. Every time he visited his family, the first query that he had was, do you have CGHS dispensary in your city? We called him a miser, he thought he was wiser.

This time, without any arguments I decided to help him out of the mess, heartbroken as he already was with my mother suddenly passing away. The system at the dispensary was hardly patient friendly though at least 80 to 90 percent of the patients must be senior citizens. Only a few could walk and stand on their own. Some were so frail that they could hardly sit for long.

The process was cumbersome. Take a registration number before knocking the doctor's door. In simple words, stand in two long queues before reaching the counter from where medicines were issued. Sometimes they had to take the dispensary in-charge's signatures on the prescriptions. So another queue added to the list.

However, queues were less of an issue. It's the person handling the counters. They disappeared off and on. Even the doctors had their computers down when they wanted tea. But then machines are machines, they can conk off anytime. Somehow, I was curious when a doctor walked away saying the server was down and the patients grumbled, 'Nothing new. It happens off and on."

An inquisitive me went to the other rooms where the computer was working, the server was not down. That's when I told the doctor sipping tea that your system can't be down when it's working in other rooms.

She frowned, but returned to her cabin. I went to the counter from where medicines were issued, chased the guy to his seat and the work was done except for the most difficult one emotionally.

I also needed to surrender my mother's card to the in-charge. I went to her room, told her about my mother's sudden demise and my father's insistence on returning the card. "This won't be done here. You need to go to the main office, give an application along with the card."

But why can't we just give an application here or submit a request online. Why it can't be dropped in a simple box, kept in every dispensary, with an application? Why travel such long distances?

She had no answer because the government expects the dead or the family to go through yet another long process to surrender the benefit availed. I refused. My father was furious. But before he could take the card from me, I cut it into pieces but couldn't throw it into the dustbin. He, my father, is too conscientious a person to agree to that.

Our argument goes on while I know my mother must be watching and smiling up there.

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Date:Jan 17, 2012
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