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And when you’re surrounded by so much death, it is nearly impossible to remain unaffected.
Much of my time, both inside and outside of Kalighat during those days, was spent contemplating this difficult subject.
But it was not until one of the volunteers – a middle-aged American fellow who claimed to be an Emergency Medical Technician back home – was summoned and proceeded to haphazardly inject this man with medicine that he finally closed his eyes for good.
I stood there in shock, not because I had witnessed a death, but because I had witnessed this volunteer inject this poor man several times, jabbing into his arm with careless force while appearing to have no idea how to find his vein.
This man had been lying down in a cheap metal bed, where he had spent the past 15 minutes shaking violently while a nurse tried to feed him some pills.After carrying on like this for several minutes, one of the long-term volunteers approached me and before I could say a word, he had yanked the pills out of my hand, grabbed this man’s jaw with unnecessary force, pried open his mouth and shoved the pills inside.I watched in shock as the tears started to form in the eyes of this frail, dying man while the volunteer handed me the empty cup and said, “This is how we do it” before storming off.I, on the other hand, ran outside into the sticky Calcutta air.And minutes later I took a seat at a rickety wooden table inside of a back alley chai shop, where I spent the following hour staring at the wall, unable to decide whether or not to continue my volunteer work.