By Life Positive June 2011 Mr Kulkarni, a senior citizen, lived in a Home for the Aged at Virar, a distant suburb of Mumbai. I visit this home regularly. I used to observe Mr Kulkarni. He was a very happy man. He was married once, but his wife died early, and he never married again. He worked as an accountant in a firm. So, when he retired, he decided to go and live in this senior home. I felt that he was the most positive person from all the seniors living there. He never complained about his life or life situation. About three years back, he experienced a sudden dizziness and lack of body balance. He went to a doctor, who examined him, and told him to get some tests done. The tests showed that he had a brain tumour. Any other person in his place would have been upset and depressed. But Mr Kulkarni was just pensive for a few days. Then he started taking action. The doctor recommended an operation, which would cost him Rs 80,000. He had saved about a lakh of rupees. So, he agreed. The operation was done successfully. Then the doctor told him to go for radiation, which would cost him about Rs18,000. Alas, it was not available in Virar. We managed to get radiation free at the Nanavati hospital, but the hospital bed was not available for free. He had to travel everyday from Virar to Nanavati, almost 60 kms. in crowded trains. But he did not mind it. He wanted to live, whatever the cost. After radiation for 15 days, he heaved a sigh of relief and started living normally. But nature had different plans for his life. After a month, he became giddy again. It was the type of tumour that would grow again, even after surgery. Mr Kulkarni took stock. Firstly, there was no money for the operation. Secondly, if the tumour were to grow again, was the operation worth it? He went into silence again for a few days. Then he consulted his friends. He got opposing views. Finally, he took the decision, “I do not want to go for surgery even if the Home arranges funds for me. I will not live in the Home and make things difficult for the management. I will go and live in the hospice at Bandra for terminally ill cancer patients.” The Home arranged to admit him in the hospice. He lived there for a week. The Hospice was a beautiful place, with flower beds near every patient. There was entertainment and spiritual practice everyday. He passed away in a week, very peacefully and joyously. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion on and controversy about whether euthanasia should be allowed. Who decides whether a person should live or not? Mr Kulkarni took a sensible decision. He had lived his life for 70 years, he had no more money for surgery, nor would it restore his health. He was prepared to accept death, even though he loved life. He died peacefully once he accepted the situation. Does this not constitute passive euthanasia? Rashida Jiwani, Mumbai
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