[Reader-list] A Dialogue with Doctors

Shveta Sarda shveta at sarai.net
Thu Dec 16 13:09:23 IST 2004

Dear All,

Last week my mother, who is a doctor, asked me if someone from the 
Cybermohalla labs can make a presentation in a seminar with an 
interactive session between doctors and health workers/lay people etc. 
Not so sure about the nature and dynamics of such encounters, I 
tentatively posed this invitation to Azra at the LNJP CM lab. She 
thought about it and wrote a short text for the doctors in dialogue. 
While translating the text I was challenged by the difficult terrain of 
imagination she so gently alludes to. Enclosed is the translation and I 
hope we will be able to take up this challenge and open a fresh way of 
thinking about bodies and social spaces.



What is that which is looked at, but not uttered?
by Azra Tabassum
azra at cm.sarai.net

There are some spaces in our lives which are brought into discussion 
only by emptying them of the social relations which they are built of, 
around. They should always be something different from what they are! 
And therefore, when we think, it is only through removing these spaces 
from our imagination.

Let me describe one such space for you.

I live in LNJP colony. In this colony is a yellow coloured building. On 
the first floor of this building is the Ankur Centre, and in it the 
Compughar - a room where we, a group of 15 young people, imagine, talk, 

Below it, on the ground floor, is a room where residents and interns 
from the LN Hospital come on a weekly basis. Among them there is also 
usually a full fledged doctor, who oversees how her students are 
performing. This dispensary has become an important support for the 
residents of the colony. People come here with the smallest to the most 
complicated of their ailments. They know medicines will be provided for 
free, and will not be spurious. And most importantly, this saves them 
the time it would take to travel to another place, away from the colony.

Just outside the Health Centre, as you enter the building, is a foyer. 
This is a foyer where the bodies of people who die in the colony, are 
brought. The bodies are bathed here, and then wrapped in a white shroud, 
and prepared for burial. The body is carried out of this building, 
through the long street that leads out of the colony. This is the street 
where goats sit, chew and brood about life!

And then, it is this same place which is used as a venue for marriages 
of the girls of this colony. Parents approach the people who live around 
this building a few days before they need the place. And on the day of 
the marriage, this small place takes on a celebrative look.

Right above it, the corridor outside the Compughar also becomes a 
convivial, friendly meeting space for everyone every once in a while 
when diferent people from the locality come in to spend a day talking 
and sharing stories. Different kinds of people come here - from the 
elderly, to young children, teachers, and more.

Why, is this not a strange place? People come here in search of health, 
after death to get made up, in old age to share stories, in adolescence 
to experiment and to try out new things.

I was invited here to pose some questions about health arising from the 
place where I live. And now that I have described the place, here is my 
question - Is it possible to have an imagination of health in this 
space, without emptying the space of its relations? Where life and 
death, relationships and health, humans and animals are not separated 
from each other? If yes, then what is this imagination?

And I was also invited to pose this question here because there would be 
doctors to address the questions. I understand that doctors have a place 
in society where they are never allowed to say, "I didn't understand", 
or "I will try to understand". Afterall, which patient will want to go 
to a doctor who shows ambivalence! But now that you have expressed this 
desire to listen, to be vulnerable to questions, all of which you may 
not have answers to, I am glad to be leaving you with this question, an 
answer to which may not be immediately available.




More information about the reader-list mailing list