Voices & Faces


That Vimal Misal and squirrels have a lot in common came to light when she was admitted into hospital in 1997. She had suffered severe burns when the stove she was cooking on, exploded. Against all counsel she insisted on being admitted at KEM hospital, which is run by a charitable trust. Unlike the government hospital KEM does not provide free services. Her family complied. A couple of days later, having to contend with mounting hospital bills, they proposed that they would shift her to the burns unit at the government hospital. She refused and finally had to reveal a secret she had kept close to her heart for several years.

Vimal said she had money for her own treatment including plastic surgery. No one even believed her. They thought she was hallucinating because she was in pain. She told her daughter to look under a particular tile in her house. Her daughter went home and lifted the tile. She found 50 rupee notes neatly and carefully folded into the smallest possible size. There were loads of them. All of Rupees 35000 after they were counted. She told her family to use that for her treatment since between them they could not afford to do so.

Vimal later told Lakshmi who had gone to visit her in hospital.......”What was I to do? That man (husband) never let me have a day’s peace. I would pay for his alcohol with my hard earned money. It kept him off my back. Even then he would look into every tin and nook and cranny to check if there was money I had stashed away somewhere that he could lay his hands on. Tell me which bank would have let me open an account? I knew I had to save for a rainy day. After all who was there for me? I had to look out for myself. So two or three times a week I would put aside a fifty rupee note. I would bite it with my teeth on the folds to make it really tiny. There was a loose tile in my house that no one knew about. I scooped out some stuff from under it and made a little space to store my precious fifties. See now I don’t need my family to do anything. I am not at anyone’s mercy and no one has to feel that I am a burden. I am paying for my own treatment at the hospital of my choice!” That was years before the medical insurance policy of the PMC and KKPKP came into existence. Vimal had provided for her own insurance policy!