Hearts of stone
The man was lying flat on the road, bleeding profusely. He raised his right hand and waved weakly for help. His motorbike was lying two feet away near the road divider only 50 yards off Hotel Radisson.
It was 8:50am on Friday.
The Airport Road had by then a significant flow of traffic, but no one stopped and came to rescue the man, aged around 35. Some cars slowed down a bit just to avoid hitting the man and his motorbike. Some vehicles even honked for the youth to move off the road.
I stopped my car near the spot. My driving instructor quickly got down and picked up the man onto our car. The man badly grazed his left side and he was bleeding from his hands, waist and legs.
Lying in the backseat – unable to move – he sobbed: “I was lying there and seeking help for quite some time, but no one stopped. No one cared at all!”
I sped up to take him to a hospital as fast as I could. I heard the man muttering something about how he was ignored by the passing vehicles.
While dropping the man – who lives in Dhanmondi – at Metropolitan Hospital in Mohakhali, I was relieved to see the medical staff rushing towards us with a stretcher.
As the faces that peeped through the windows of the passing cars came to my mind, I wondered how these people could act so stone-heartedly even after seeing a man lying in such a bad shape. How could we lose sympathy?
As I was writing this, I happened to notice someone's Facebook post about how a man bled to death in his car as three famous hospitals in Gulshan declined to treat the injured person.
As Saif Kamal came out of Banani Road No 23 at 8:26pm Thursday, he saw a man trying to get on a bus that had just started moving at a green signal. The man, who happened to be the helper of the bus, slipped and was run over by the running bus.
Saif, founder of Toru – an innovation hub that works with youths to transform innovations to social enterprises – stopped his car ignoring the stream of traffic behind him and ran to the injured man.
“A bus was approaching us from the left. I pull his hands to save it from being run over. People on the walkway were looking on. As I began screaming for help, they stopped traffic. I rushed to get water from my car.”
The lower part of the man's body was squashed. “There was no blood, just a white mass. I had never seen human flesh this close.”
A pedestrian helped Saif to take the victim to his car. They rushed to a reputed private hospital at Gulshan-2 intersection, which declined to treat the man. He then drove to another hospital in the area. The security men drove them away saying they could not treat him either.
Worried at the worsening condition of the man, Saif then drove to another hospital. “The doctor was standing casually at the emergency door waiting for hospital staff to pull the person out of the car. I lost my head and screamed at him. He then came and checked the patient, who was still alive and gasping. But the doctor refused to treat him.”
As the doctor advised him to take the man to Dhaka Medical College Hospital, Saif asked why they won't treat him.
“I will give you the money but please help. He will die by the time I get him there. There is heavy traffic on the road,” Saif told him. But the doctor remained unmoved.
When he requested the hospital authorities for an ambulance, they refused that too and asked him to get his car off their parking lot.
Frustrated, Saif later headed to the Gulshan Police Station, from where a sub-inspector accompanied him to Kurmitola Hospital.
The first question the SI asked Saif after boarding his car was where he hit the guy. “I explained to him the whole situation. The ride to the hospital was an interrogation session. But the policeman was finally convinced.”
They reached the hospital at 9:45pm. But the doctor declared the man dead.
“I had to wait for the next two hours while they traced down his kin. His name was Arafat.”
Saif later had to go to Banani Police Station to file a case.
The SI who accompanied him to Kurmitola Hospital advised him not to pick up such victims in his own car. “Police, in many cases, will take it for granted that you ran over the victim,” the SI said.
“It seemed to me that people in the cars do not have empathy for people. While they screamed at me, the pedestrians and poorer ones came to help. What will we do with this so-called education and social status?” Saif wrote.