Generosity Never Goes Unrewarded !

R.D. Bhardwaj “Noorpuri” 

Long time, there was a poor boy called Howard Kelly (living in some rural area of Pennsylvania, USA), who used to sell small goods of daily use by the people like – bread, eggs, milk and butter etc. from door to door to pay his school fees, as his father had expired leaving him and his poor mother to fend for themselves. One day, when he returned from his school, he placed his satchel on his bed and strait went to the kitchen to eat something, as he was feeling very hungry. But surprisingly he did not find anything prepared for eating, so he went to his mother’s room and found that she was having fever and thus sleeping without cooking any food. He also searched the place where his mother used to keep money, but found just a few coins which could not afford him to buy some meals; but he was feeling very hungry and he started scheming as to how he could satisfy his hunger.

He decided to go to some house and ask for a meal. Reaching a random house, he knocked the door and a lovely young gentle woman opened the door. She asked him as to what he wanted. As some thoughts were already going on in the mind of the boy as to how to strike a conversation, and thus, in perplexed state of mind and in a hurry, he just could not ask for food, he got fumbled and merely managed to say, “I am feeling thirsty, can you please give me a glass of water?”

But the lady with her sixth sense doing the rounds on observing the young boy with a motherly instinct, got some inkling about the plight of the little boy, thus she made him come inside her house and sit comfortably. Soon she also realised that the boy seems to be hungry, so she went into the kitchen brought a large glass of milk and a few biscuits and offered it to him. On seeing the biscuits etc., the eyes of the little boy gave a sparkling look. He ate all the biscuits, drank the whole glass of milk slowly, and then in his childish innocence, asked the lady, “How much should I pay you?” But the lady smiled a bit and replied, “You don’t owe me anything, my dear child.” Then she caressed his head in a motherly love and affection and said, “Mother Mary has taught us never to accept any payment for an act of benevolence / kindness, particularly from a young child like you !”

The boy heaved a sigh of relief and said, “Then I thank you from the core of my heart! I was really feeling very hungry, but I am not a beggar and asking for food from someone, was also difficult for me.” The lady of the house also smiled a bit and said, “Yes my dear Child, I knew that you wanted something to eat!” As Howard Kelly left that house, he not only felt physically stronger, but his faith in God and mankind also became somewhat stronger and firmer. While he was returning home, he decided to study very seriously and laboriously and rise in life (as apart from his mother, his teachers also used to tell him that he must study seriously and laboriously if he wants to score good marks), so that he may not have to spread his hands before anybody for at least filling-up his empty stomach. Come what may, he would neither give up his sincere efforts to score good marks nor quit.

The little boy Kelly worked very hard, studied medicine and became an intelligent doctor and earned a big name and fame (February 20, 1858 – January 12, 1943). He received his MD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1882 and travelled to Europe to learn more about advanced gynaecologic techniques. Later on, he also founded Kensington Hospital in Philadelphia in 1888 and served as Assistant Professor of Obstetrics at the University of Philadelphia. Then, he moved to Baltimore in 1889 to work as Gynaecologist-in-Chief at the new Johns Hopkins Hospital.

Many years later, that young woman became critically ill with some gynae problem and to save her life, she was required to be surgically operated upon. The local doctors in that area were baffled, as they did not have a big hospital and latest medical technology which was very much required to treat her. So, they finally advised her to go to the big city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease. Dr. Howard Kelly, being the Gynaecologist-in-Chief, was called in for the consultation and some expert advice.

When he heard the name of the town (some rural area of Pennsylvania), she came from, a strange light and curiosity filled his eyes. Immediately he rose from his chair and directly went down the hall of the hospital to her room. Dressed in his doctor’s gown he went in strait to see the patient.

He recognized the lady patient at once, though she had grown old by then and for a moment she transcended him back to his childhood days, though the lady could not recognise him. He went back to the consultation room and advised other doctors to try their level best to save her life. From that day he himself gave special care and attention to the case. After a long struggle, the battle was finally won, as the lady was operated upon and within a fortnight or so, she was fully cured of her medical / health problem and one evening, the doctors told her that she would be relieved from the hospital next day. As the time for discharging the old lady from the hospital came to a close, Dr. Kelly requested the billing section to show the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it, then wrote something at the end and sent the same to the accounts section for handing over the same to the patient. On the other side, though the old lady also felt physically fully cured and ready to go home, but psychologically, a strange tension was building up in her mind. At last, the bill was handed over to her, but she feared to open the envelop which contained her bill, for she was sure that the amount of the bill might be quite high and it would take away the rest of her life to pay for it all, as she was not that much financially sound by that time. However, she opened the envelope (with trembling hands) containing the bill and finally, she looked at it and suddenly something caught her attention on the second page of the bill, as something was written in red ink in bold letters, which read as under :-

“PAID IN FULL, with one glass of milk and a few biscuits!”
(Signed) Dr. Howard Kelly

She embraced the nurse who had brought the bill, but could not utter even a single word. Tears of joy flooded her eyes and she folded her hands in prayer with a happy heart : “Thank You, GOD that your love and affection and many other acts of benevolence have spread abroad through human hearts, hands and efforts. You know that I don’t have sufficient money to pay the bill and the big and benevolent doctor really waived off it fully for me !!! Thank you dear God, once again …………. She also requested the nurse to convey her gratitude to Dr. Kelly for generously waiving off her entire bill, which might have been, otherwise difficult for her to pay !!! “