Keeri who loved humans

Keeri who loved humans
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Thursday, 5 July 2018

That Wonderful NHS

That Wonderful NHS

In the Spring of 1967, I was in pieces. There had been a family tragedy, which felled me to the floor. And we were leaving Eastern Nigeria for good. The Biafran civil war was getting closer every day to Enugu, where I lived. I was glad to get out.

   The journey, however, was a nightmare. My one-year-old daughter was running a high fever and nothing would bring it down. Airline problems forced us to spend three days in Amsterdam on the way to England where we were headed. Three days keeping up in the night feeling the fever in Manju's body, petrified that her small body would be burnt out.

   So, when we finally got to England, my first task was to get my daughter to a doctor. We had found a bed-and-breakfast place on Edgeware Road and the nearest hospital was Paddington Green. 

   It was another three days before the doctors diagnosed urinary infection and put Manju on medication. I was worried that the hospital bill would be an enormous one, which we would struggle to pay. No one had discussed with us what the daily rates were, what the treatment would cost.

   Maju and I stayed in the hospital for a week till she recovered. The hospital provided a room for me downstairs to stay the night and be near her. That would add to the bill. When Manju was finally discharged, I went to the cash-counter and asked for my bill, with some trepidation.

   'How much is it and will you take a cheque?' I asked.

   The receptionist smiled. ''No bill,' she said.

   I was an Indian citizen passing through England, but the NHS had taken care of my daughter with grace and goodwill. I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

   What a service, and how wonderful that Britain had this -- hospitals, doctors, medicines and all else needed for the care of the needy -- on tap, for rich and poor, even for 'air-rush' immigrant like me!

   I would do anything, pay any amount of tax, stagger along in protest with my walking stick, whatever is needed to make this Tory group of imbeciles who govern us see the light.

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