Calcutta, Jan. 13: Amal Krishna Talukdar might have died in the street surrounded by a large group of spectators had young Dinesh not stopped.
The 52-year-old postal employee was walking to work at the General Post Office at Dalhousie when, struck by chest pain, he collapsed on the pavement, vomiting, his head as if cracking open under the hammering by an ache.
“I thought my cries for help did not reach them,” Talukdar said from his bed at Medical College and Hospital’s ICCU, recollecting Saturday’s incident when he lay dying as a crowd watched.
Dinesh, a third year student of Sanskrit College, was returning to his hostel when he noticed the crowd. “I saw the man lying on the pavement with a hand on his chest. He was in great pain and was groaning,” he said.
Sudhir Bandhu Bhattacharjee, medical officer in the cardiology department of the hospital, said Talukdar had suffered a massive heart attack. “If there was a few more moments’ delay, he could have died,” he added.
Talukdar had collapsed on Surya Sen Street in central Calcutta on his way to office for night shift. Although he had high blood pressure, there was no known history of heart ailment.
He fell on the pavement at a spot close to a local CPM office. Witnesses said that among the onlookers there were some party activists, too.
“Everyone was afraid that if the person died, which seemed possible, there would be police harassment,” said a local shop owner.
Earlier known for its humane nature, such tales of indifference born out of fear of trouble are becoming common in Calcutta.
Not so yet with Dinesh, whose father is a farmer in North 24-Parganas. He was walking to Eden Hindu Hostel, adjacent to Calcutta University, when he found Talukdar and called a hand-pulled rickshaw to take him to hospital. Medical College is yards away.
“I asked the crowd to accompany me to the hospital but they did not agree. They even refused to help me get the patient on the rickshaw, fearing police harassment,” Dinesh said, recalling that evening.
Around 6 pm, he took Talukdar to the emergency department where doctors performed an ECG and admitted him to the ICCU.
“His condition is stable now and we will shift him to the general ward,” Bhattacharjee said.
After admitting Talukdar, Dinesh went to the GPO and informed Talukdar’s colleagues about his condition.
Next morning, one of them visited Talukdar’s family in Nadia to inform them.
“He was a godsend to me,” said Talukdar, overcome with emotion.