Oriental carpets

My brother: handsome, witty, generous, tragic

Vinod K. Puri

Born in 1941, Vinod was brought up and educated in Amritsar. He attended Government Medical College, and subsequently trained as a surgeon at PGI, Chandigarh. He left for USA in 1969, and retired in 2003 as Director of Critical Care Services at a teaching hospital in Michigan. Married with two grown sons, he continues to visit India at least once a year.

The year was 1975. I was surprised to see my wife in the lobby of the small motel in San Francisco. She had flown in from Los Angeles. I had gone to San Francisco to attend a meeting and had run into an old friend from Ohio. The friend had decided to move to the same hotel as me to save some money. After the day-long meeting we had eaten together and leisurely walked back to the motel. A couple of drinks each we had with dinner had left us relaxed and in a good mood.

But, she was serious and waved away my friend's hearty greetings. "We have to leave!" she said.

"I received a call from India, Satish is injured."

"Is it a scooter accident?" I asked, Satish was my older brother.

"No, he is burnt, and he is in the hospital. I bought a return ticket for you."

She tried to console me on the return flight to Los Angeles. I had difficulty in understanding how he could sustain burns. His work as a manufacturer of hand-made oriental carpets did not involve any fires or furnaces.

Next morning, we were able to talk to her father who also said that Satish had sustained more than 90% burns on his body, and was in a very precarious condition.

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