It has been 7 decades but the memories are vivid
I was 17 when our country got freedom. We were very happy to be free from English rule in 1947, but what happened afterwards reduced our joy to other helplessness. We lived in a place with no basic utilities but we thought independence would bring prosperity and stability to our lives, But then the partition happened. Our house was set ablaze and we were left with nowhere to go. We lived a rootless existence for a long time and name a prey of poverty. My father had passed away, the house; including everything we had was nothing more than a pile of ashes.
It has been 7 decades but the memories are vivid.”
Azimutrahmaan Siddiqui, an 89 years old doctor from Nagina, Bijnor has witnessed it all. He has seen his countrymen unite together and limited their limits to what was possible to achieve independence from the British. It is surreal experience for him to witness his fellow citizens confused, divided and apathetic in the hands of this COVID-19 pandemic. However; something that never changed is his enthusiasm to look after his patience which he counts as a blessing from his mother.
Dr Hira Shams, clinical physiotherapist and Dr Azeem’s granddaughter says, “Abbuji never took a day off from his clinic. His eye shone when someone seeks medical advice from him. He is source of inspiration to all.”
Dr Azeem completed his education from Alighar Muslim University.
During his initial years as a practicing physician, he would earn 85 rupees per day and handover the sum to his mother.He recalls it as his best memory. Dr Azeem later started his own clinic started his own clinic which helped him come out of poverty and become financial independent.
He is known among his neighbours for his exceptional generosity; not only does he give free consultation to poor but he provides free diagnostic tests- hospital admission and treatment to those who can’t afford it.
In the small-town of Nagina most private practitioners shy away from paying their texted but not Dr Azeem. Without being forced to he has fulfilled his obligations every year without fail for more than 4 decades.
Amid this journey; one of his strongest supporters, his wife, passed away during Hajj.
Dr Azeem has always denounced ignorance, particularly; the cultural taboos around the rights of women. He has been a vocal supporter of female education and has lead by example. His daughter and granddaughter are not only educated but respected and known for what they do.
In the last few months, his health has deteriorated. Last week, Dr Azeem was hospitalised due to multi organ dysfunction and was in the intensive care unit for few days. Soon after his condition stabilised he insisted on being discharged so that he could visit his clinic again.
“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, we are preventing him from meeting people. It is for his own well-being. It strings to see him sit alone in his clinic as there are no patients other than people from our own extended family” says Dr Hira.
When he is not around his patients, he likes to spend time playing his cat. His shivering hands and sloughed posture narrates the story of eternity;- endless memories, memories and experiences which are narrated as folk tales among the Siddiqui family.