Gurmeet Singh, the soft-spoken owner of a ready-made garments shop in Patna’s Chiraiyatand locality, is nothing less than an angel for the abandoned patients at the Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH).
Every night at around 9:00 p.m., Gurmeet visits the ‘lawaris’ ward (ward for abandoned patients), carrying food items he has purchased using his own money. The items include food from a nearby Radhe Krishna eatery near the Gandhi Maidan, sweets from a roadside cart and on occasion, eggs. He feeds the patients and enquires about their health and state of mind. After they have had their fill, he washes the bowls and trays by himself.
If he sees the condition of any patient worsening, he also rushes to the nearest doctor available at the emergency ward and informs them about their plight.
“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, reports The New Indian Express (TNIE) during a visit to the Patna hospital premises.
There have also been times when Gurmeet has gone through the prescriptions listed for these patients, noted them in a pad, and purchased them later.
Singh is in his 60s and has been doing this for the last 26 years with little fanfare. The media attention he has been receiving lately is a recent development.
Aside from serving food, and enquiring about the health of the patients, Singh has also donated blood on many occasions. “Now, the doctors have told me not to donate blood any more as it will be dangerous for my health…my son and other relatives donate. But sometimes when [an] emergency comes, how can I not?” he told The Hindu in a 2016 conversation.
For many of these patients, the food that Singh brings in is their first meal of the day. “If Sardarji would not have been coming with food and medicine every night, many of us would have died,” said one patient in the ward speaking to the national publication.
Krishna Devi, a 70-year-old patient with a serious leg injury, speaks of how the “Sardarji and his dinner” are the only hope she has in her last days on earth after she was abandoned earlier by her son’s family.
Fortunately, Gurmeet’s selfless service to society received recognition in 2016, when he was awarded the World Sikh Award by The Sikh Directory, a UK-based Sikh organisation.
His actions have inspired two other good samaritans to step up and bring food to these abandoned patients at the hospital. Gurmeet’s kindness to these abandoned patients emerges from a spirit of giving, inspired by the practice of Dasvandh—a significant feature of the Sikh faith.
This feature urges followers of the faith to spend 10% of their earnings for the betterment of society in the name of the Guru. More than two decades ago, it was the sight of patients in real pain at the abandoned patient ward of the Patna hospital that compelled him to do something for them.
“I decided to visit them every night with dinner from that onwards,” says Gurmeet.
He hasn’t looked back since.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)