Hospitals are Kafkaesque

contemptuous understanding of hospitals, judiciary and false hope.

#people #musings 3 min read

I have been to a few hospitals. I saw all kinds of people. From completely dysfunctional to astonishingly fit. I saw doctors, nurses, hospital administration, machines and everything that makes a hospital.

The smell of disinfectant, false hope, the chilling air conditioning that makes everyone even more sick, disoriented patients and anxious attendees, and indifferent staff. Nervousness evokes when you enter a hospital.

People in long queues, people running here and there, people struggling to operate the token machine and cursing the management. It's a big maze; you could get lost in it if you choose to. And no one would search for you, because everyone is just like you, away from home to find hope.

There are a few places I think no one visits until it's a bad time. Those are, the hospital, the courtroom and the police station. People seek their "oasis" in those places.

But those institutions rarely give us hope. They make us uncomfortable instead. They are full of incessant chaos, rules and regulations, meaninglessness and most importantly, :Kafkaesque-ness.

Consider the courtroom and judicial system.
Kafka's The Trial expresses the tyranny of the repetitive and mundane system. It's unpredictable, ambiguous and people suffer. The judicial system is much like an omniscient and omnipotent creature that deals its cards with mortals, and it's probably not aligned to do just good.

And I think that the whole system relies on the :Framing Effect to prove a point. Meursault's trial in Camus' The Stranger is a great example of how it twists everything. Lawyers negotiate, much like smug businessmen. Guilty are proven innocent, thanks to persuasive tactics and rhetoric. This makes us ponder upon its "justice".

Another such example of Kafkaesque institute are the hospitals.

I went to AIIMS Guwahati a couple of days ago. I was reminded of everything I felt, saw or experienced in the past couple of years: the ICU, the post-anaesthetic delirium and the wailing people. Homesick. And I think I'll be reminded of that every time I visit a clinic or a hospital.

It was 2021. The year of the COVID. Things were becoming better for the world, but worse for me. I had a major surgery. I had to have my gallbladder removed. Things were, in one word, crazy.
I remember everything.

And it was then, when I realised that Hospitals are Kafkaesque.
The ambiguity and smugness in billing counters, nonchalant nurses, numerous doctor visits, constant anxiety and so on. And that cycle repeats. For time doesn't work the same as the world outside, it slows down, and even stops. It's up to the hospital.

You need to make friends, use mathematical abilities and drama skills to move forward in queues. You need to see patterns and reason with people. This is enough to make the hospital feel more like a puzzle than a place where one seeks treatment.

A complete farce. Pay your bills, and we shall treat you well.

Coming back to AIIMS Guwahati, it was very much the same. The same repetitive actions, queues, smug businessmen. It's crazy how being a doctor or a nurse is just a job. A mere job. They'd have to be saints to treat people altruistically, and no one is a saint.

The thing I hate the most is that chilling AC. Never have I ever felt any more contempt towards any non-living object. It weakens me; I am already cold-blooded.

Once I realised that you can't do anything about these, I simply laugh when anyone complains or frowns. Haven't they realised that you're meant to stand for hours, to be weakened, to be afraid...? A never ending process...

To be weakened and to be afraid. That's when they grab you and squeeze everything out of you.
Hospital Exit Sign

:x Kafkaesque

This word is used to describe situations that are weirdly absurd, complex and illogical. It is derived from the name of the writer Franz Kafka who often wrote about such situations.

:x Framing Effect

Different ways of representation evoke different kind of feelings
For example, which ice-cream would you buy? "80% fat-free" vs "20% fat"

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