PATNA: Lying blankly on their beds throughout the day, the 17-odd patients at the lawaris ward (ward for the abandoned) of Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) look around expectantly around 9 pm. That is when a turbaned man with graying beard steps in carrying a bag full of food.
“Why are you groaning? Is there pain in your arm?” asks Gurmeet Singh, 62, as he feeds crushed rotis mixed with vegetable curry to an emaciated woman lying on a tarpaulin-covered bed.
After serving dinner to the patients and washing the trays and bowls himself, Singh rushes to meet doctors at the emergency ward. “I need to tell them about this woman. Maybe she has a broken arm. These patients often fall off their beds at night and suffer fractures,” he says.
For the last 26 years, Singh has been visiting the abandoned patients at Bihar’s largest government-run hospital every night with dinner. The soft-spoken Sikh, who runs a readymade garment shop at Patna’s Chiraiyatand locality, buys food at a restaurant on his way to the hospital and spends nearly an hour with the patients, serving dinner and enquiring about their well-being. He has also donated blood for needy patients many times.
Krishna Devi, 70, who became immobile due to a festering wound on her right foot and was driven away by her son’s family, says, “The Sardarjee and his dinner are the only hope in my final days.”Ganesh Manjhi from Jharkhand, whose right hand was chopped off one night when he was sleeping on the roadside, is happy about the sweets Singh brings sometimes with the food.
Singh’s selfless service was recognised at the global level in 2016 when he received the World Sikh Award in London by a UK-based NGO.That was one of the rare occasions he went out of Patna. “I am worried if the abandoned patients would get proper help in my absence,” he says.Singh need not worry any more. His work has inspired at least two men to continue the service. These two Good Samaritans are now bringing food for the patients.
Spends 10% of his income on the needy
Gurmeet Singh once happened to visit the lawaris ward and saw the pain of the patients. That was when he thought of doing something for them. “I decided to visit them every night with dinner,” says Singh, who has been earmarking 10% of his income for the needy