Saturday, 1 June 2013

Living Legends: Leela Pradhan

We went to see Leela-didi yesterday evening.

Went to see her in her bed at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences - the largest hospital in India.  She has been admitted there for 2 weeks now, awaiting her cancer surgery to remove a lump in her breast.

What comes to your mind when you go to meet a person with cancer?  What about a person who should have been operated at least 10 days ago, but whose operations kept being postponed?

Whatever comes you your mind, you can throw it away when you meet Leela-didi.

When we walked into her ward - we were greeted by a sunshine-smile that just dazzled!  "I am so happy here" she said "I have been given a 2 week holiday!"

Leela is irrepressable.  Hailing from Darjeeling this Nepali speaking lady has been part and parcel of the work of the Duncan Hospital for many years.  She was abandonned as a child and was literally picked up from a dustbin - and when she tells her story she always talks about how even in that situation she was a child in God's image and that God has a plan for her.   Leela trained as a nurse and had a calling to work in the community.  Along with her mentor Dr. Aletta Bell, she helped develop the community health programmes at Raxaul and most recently is working in setting up a pioneering palliative care at the Harriet Benson Memorial Hospital in Lalitpur.

Leela as a 'patient' is hardly bed-ridden.  Instead she gets up periodically and 'does rounds' with the other patients - praying and comforting them.   When we prayed for her, the whole ward hushed and all the patients in the beds around her soaked in the prayers given for Leela - and for them too!

When it was time to leave, Leela walked down with us.  "You aren't trying to run away?" we joked with her - all she gave was the huge smile.  We left Leela and her faithful friend Sister Mary who is her primary care-giver at this time outside AIIMS.  Leela had heard that she was posted for surgery first on the list for the next day. "We will be praying for you tomorrow when the surgery takes place."

As I write this, Leela-didi is in the theatre and will probably soon be wheeled out of surgery into post-operative care.  She went into the theatre at about 8.30 am.  Your prayers for this remarkable woman are much appreciated.


  1. Thanks Andi for this post, we are praying for Leela.

    Jaya kumar

  2. Well she is fine during our visit last week 14 - 16 March, 2014