It was around October 1989. The construction of the Kenchanahalli hospital had begun and was going on at a slow pace. Money was always in short supply and things were getting difficult. It was those times when one wondered whether we would get the required support to complete the project. There were times when I felt low and depressed. It was during those times that I remembered Swami Achalanandaji’s words. He was always telling me that support would find us. He was fond of telling me that no good work started in the name of Swami Vivekananda had ever suffered for want of funds. It was men that were wanted. Money would come, was what he would keep saying.
It was his moral support and guidance that kept me going. For after all, I could not show any of my apprehensions as it could affect the morale of our fragile team and panic could set in. This was the last thing that was wanted and everyone around me believed that funds were there and that the construction would go on to its logical conclusion. This was also the time that all my convictions were being put to test. For after all, of what use are convictions if they are not put to test in the crucible called life. Otherwise these convictions will remain mere superficial beliefs.
I still vividly remember that day. It was a Friday and we would have to distribute the wages for the week the next day as was the local custom. I was sitting in a corner and calculating what I had to pay Mani, the chief mason and his team. The total amount had worked out to Rs.3474. I had around Rs.100 and was left wondering how to mobilize the remaining amount. Going to Swami Sureshanandaji was out of question as I had already borrowed money from him in order pay the previous week’s wages. Swami Achalanandaji had also exhausted his meager pension on my maintenance expenses. All I was left with were his words of wisdom, comfort and faith in Swami Vivekananda and his unexplainable ways.
It was a very confusing situation. On one hand, the reality of the situation was leaving me frustrated, helpless and desperate. On the other hand, my faith kept telling me that something would happen and the money would come. It was indeed a difficult situation. When these thoughts were running through my mind, a car suddenly drove into the campus and stopped near the entrance. A well dressed man got out and started asking in Tamil if there was any doctor in the campus. One of the lady workers pointed at me. He hesitatingly came to me and repeated the question in Tamil with a few Kannada words interspersed. For me, his presence was an intrusion that I did not encourage. All my thoughts were on how to pay the wage bill the next day. I was standing in my dhoti and a towel wrapped around my neck. I can understand how shocked he must have been when I told him that he was looking at the ‘doctor’. Despite his disbelief, I reassured him that I really was a doctor and asked him what the problem was. He was a young man with his wife and a 4-5 year old son who were on a holiday. They were on their way to the Jungle Lodge at Karapur and had lost their way and come to Kenchanahalli. His son had to attend to nature’s call and had developed itching after relieving himself in the bushes. Possibly, some insect must have bit him. I gave him a few anti-histamines that I had in the medicine box that we had kept for our workers use. As we started talking, I found out that he was the owner of Hex Automobiles and was a dealer for Bajaj scooters. He had his showroom on the Mount Road at Saidapet in Chennai (then Madras). I even remembered having seen it when I had traveled on that road.
After half an hour or so and taking the correct directions on how to reach the Jungle Lodges, he decided to leave. Just as he was saying his farewell, he abruptly ran back to his car. I even thought that he was rude and discourteous. He spent time talking to his wife and then rushed back to me. He apologized for rushing away so suddenly. He was carrying some cash in his hands and gave it to me. He very apologetically told me that it was all the money he could spare and that he did not carry his checkbook with him. He asked me to use this contribution towards the construction of the hospital. And before I could even thank him properly, he drove away.
After he left and all the excitement settled down, I got down to counting the money that he gave me. The total was Rs.3500! For a moment I was shaken but not exactly surprised. Swami Achalanandaji’s words were still echoing in my mind as I came to terms with the event of that memorable evening.