Are you in pain?
This is the question Gurmeet Singh usually asks when he enters a hospital ward in the northern Indian city of Patna.
It is a damp and grubby facility with lime-green walls and stained tiled floors. Half a dozen gurneys for sick patients are scattered all over the ill-lit place. A fetid smell of urine and stale food fills the air. When night falls, rats slink out of a defunct fireplace and scurry for food.
The food – dinner comprises rice, lentil soup and some vegetable gruel – is insipid. A doctor and a nurse come on their rounds a couple of times a day. At other times, the patients appear to be left to their fate.
The place has the appalling moniker of the ward for lawaris or the abandoned. Put simply, it treats patients who have no family or have been rejected by them. When they recover, they are usually sent away to rehab homes – or returned to the streets.
For its inmates, the ward can be their home for months on end, for the streets, where they usually live and forage for food and shelter, can be a harsher place.
Tonight, it appears, nobody is hurting.
Read rest of the article: A messiah for India’s abandoned sick