I was today thinking of the last few days of Jyoti Basu, the patriarch, the chief minister, and the great political leader of India's West Bengal state who ruled for 23 years and recently passed away at a private hospital in Kolkata. No matter how you look at the intensity of his medical treatment, at the end of the day it was this.A feeble 96 year old man who repeatedly pleaded and requested to his caregivers be treated in his own home (and the home may have been spacious, quiet, and clean enough for his end of life care to continue) was hauled against his will, wheeled to a modern hospital, stuck in needles in his feeble body (remember he could barely sit for 10 minutes at a stretch), put on heavy doses of antibiotics (initially on conjecture not on antibiograms), then as he sunk, he was put on ventilator life support systems, dialysis and cardiac pacing till he could not take any more & died. Every day in the bulletins the hospital distributed bulletins of his of his failing health (all his life we get to hear he was a very private person, barely smiled in public or showed emotions), and then when he died, they made a parade of his corpse and put it away.
Away? In the name of body donation, we hear, the ex-chief minister's body will be given over to one of the teaching hospitals, where parts of the body will be torn apart, cut to pieces and organs put on display in formalin-laden jars, or perhaps prepped for dissection along with other unclaimed corpses. To think of, what came to pass for a leader who held sway over the life of people in West Bengal for 23 years!