Dear Madam Shobha De,
After 3 busy months I was finally home on this Sunday morning and happened to read your column on the “more important weighty issues” around Eman.
Forgive my ignorance but I had to google you to know your area of literary specialisation. I was mighty impressed that you have a wikipedia page dedicated to yourself and it describes you as a writer who is best known for her depiction of “socialites and sex” in her works of fiction. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shobhaa_De). Well I respect it and humbly accept that you have more knowledge in your field of expertise than me.
However, what surprises me is that despite no training or expertise in Medicine… or forget that…. even without making the effort of coming and seeing Eman even once at Saifee Hospital you have jumped to conclusions about the status of her health and opined about her medical condition in your column.
Your disdain for obese people is known and not very long ago you made news for fat shaming a small town, hardworking policeman for his weight. The issue spiralled off a series of events and ultimately led to a happy ending when we offered him medical help at Saifee Hospital. I am disappointed that an educated and so called intellectual person like you thought that Eman’s pictures were “grotesque”. Obese people may not look as good as models like yourself but yes they do have a heart and may feel hurt by insensitive comments like these.
On your wikipedia page I also read that you started your career first as a model. I must compliment you that even at your age you look lovely and I admire your fitness. Well as doctors we suffer a lot of prejudices…. doctors must not earn money, doctors must be charitable, doctors must be philanthropic, doctors must help people, doctors must not own expensive cars and so on and so forth…
Yesterday you added three more to the existing list…. doctors must also be criticised for being good looking, photogenic and articulate! Lo behold…….Good looks and being photogenic are justified only if you are a model. A doctor must be held guilty and should be persecuted for being fit, well dressed, presentable and well spoken!!
Coming to being media savvy and publicising the case. Eman is not a usual patient. She is a phenomenon. Media frenzy around her began months before she landed in India. She has given hope and inspiration to millions of morbidly obese and sick people around the world. Morbid obesity comes with a plethora of life threatening diseases like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, neurological issues and so on. There is enough literature to prove that bariatric surgery is the only proven way to achieve sustainable weight loss and improvement in associated co-morbidities.
If Eman could lose 300 kg and become better, so can millions of other such patients in this world. She is a beacon of hope to all those who had given up on life. In times to come this will remain as the larger picture. Rest will be forgotten.
I personally thank the media for highlighting this case and creating awareness about a disease that is still fighting for getting disease status.
Lastly coming to the spat between the patient’s family and the hospital.
What would I like to change in this whole episode?
We took up a humanitarian cause, went all out to overcome challenges never undertaken before and put in our best effort. We made only one mistake. We made the mistake of undertaking this huge task “pro bono”. As Ayn Rand says in the Atlas Shrugged, “money is not the root of all evil, it is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value”.
Today we have been penalized despite doing our best. When something is given on a platter one starts believing that it is their birth right and the opposite party’s duty. What goes missing from the entire process is “Value”.
One has to earn it to appreciate it.
Why only her family, even you followed the case from the beginning and could have contributed towards the Save Eman Cause. But you were smarter than us probably due to your expertise in “socialites and sex” which makes you a better judge of people than us.
You are known for giving life lessons and claim to know better than simple doctors like us. My admiration for you only grows with each passing day as writing a column is certainly more difficult than performing bariatric surgery on a 500 kg patient. Once Eman goes to Abu Dhabi I will have more time at hand and may be on one of the days I will come and learn from you about- “How to be a chick?”
I thank mumbai mirror for publishing this in today’s edition.
Dr Aparna Govil Bhasker