Patients of Kalimpong Leprosy Hospital – Forgotten Souls

They have legs, yet they cannot walk. They look at the horizon and keep pondering about something deep within their heart. When you look closely it feels like we have known the person from ages, yet is unknown. Some say it has been 30 years and some say 25, while a one says he is from Jalpiguri, another says he is from Alipurduwar. There are people from Bihar and other places, yet they have been living a lonely life at the Kalimpong Leprosy Hospital. No one has seen their family for years together and none believe they will ever see them again.

Leprosy patients at the Kalimpong Leprosy Hospital.
Leprosy patients at the Kalimpong Leprosy Hospital.

These leprosy patients have been staying in the hospital for a long time after they were discarded by their family and society. They have lived in the hospital and made their own simple little world among the small colony of tiny cottages meant for them. These patients share all their fear, sorrow and happiness among each other and live a quiet life in each other’s company. “I do feel like going home, but what can I do, the disease is not getting cured,” an old man said. “God brought me to this world with good health but once I was diagnosed with the disease everything feel apart, health, family, home… everything,” the man added with tears in his eyes. He said he is from Chalsa and has been in the Kalimpong Leprosy Hospital for over 20 years. His parents have long passed away, but he still has his brothers in Chalsa.

Forgotten by the family and neglected by the society, this is the world of a group of few old men who stay at the Kalimpong Leprosy Hospital. Pessimistic approach and lack of knowledge about the deadly disease are the main reasons for the fate of these patients and the condition of the patients who live here is a living proof.

As soon as deadly diseases such as AIDS and leprosy in diagnosed in a person, he gets discarded from the society. Although there has been a considerable decrease in such practices currently, the problem still exists. All the patients at the hospital have been the victim of discrimination and have been left here. Leprosy is a curable disease with proper treatment, but if it is not diagnosed and taken care of in time, the disease will affect each and every part of the body. However, due to the lack of knowledge back in their times, these patients have not been able to be completely cured.

Most of these patients have sustained heavy damages to their body due to the disease and are unable to do any proper work. They rely on the hospital for food, and each other for company. Despite all these hardship the patients have faith in god and perform their prayers everyday at a prayer room in one of the rooms in the hospital. With a little faith, the company of each other and the support from the hospital, these patients continue their struggle for life and their fight against the disease.


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