About Hay Ram

On August 21, 2006, at 3:00 p.m., my son Emmanuel fell 1,000 metres in the mountains around Srinagar, in Kashmir. Four hours later, courageous people who live in the mountains found him hanging on to life by a thread and rushed him to the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar, where they accomplished the impossible, bringing Emmanuel back from the brink of eternity.

In Montreal, during the five days and five nights that Emmanuel was fighting for his life, I was constantly repeating, “My God, my God, if only…” Emmanuel woke up just as I set foot in the intensive-care ward of the Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, after 21 interminable hours in the air. My God, he was alive. His mind was clear. He recognized me. He spoke to me in French and switched to English without skipping a beat to talk to the nurses, all of whom were happy finally to be able to communicate with him after his days in a coma. His skin was scraped from head to foot and he was covered with bruises, he had had a severe head trauma, and he was suffering from four broken ribs, a crushed left shoulder, and a fractured right fibula; a long convalescence was in store for him.

My God. “Hay Ram” (literally, O God) were the last words that Mahatma Gandhi uttered as he died from an assassin’s bullets. With these words, invoking in all its forms the name of the most famous Indian, Hay Ram testifies to my deep gratitude to Gandhi’s compatriots–mountain dwellers, doctors, taxi drivers, nurses, and all the others who enabled my son, Emmanuel, to return alive from his voyage to Kashmir. By evoking Gandhi’s last words, I give thanks to God for having imbued these people with the determination, sense of duty, science, and generous kindness with which they saved Emmanuel.

How much is your child’s life worth? How much would you give for his or her life? Is there enough gold on Earth, or in the universe, to pay? Never. In spite of this, I wanted to make a concrete expression of at least a fraction of my eternal gratitude to all of the people in India who, in extremis, saved Emmanuel’s life.

As a sign of eternal gratitude to Gandhi's compatriots who did everything they could to save my son Emmanuel's life, I will donate all my royalties collected for Hay Ram to the Sher-I-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences in Srinagar. Today, Emmanuel is back to his normal life. Hay Ram…

My infinite thanks, Philippe Leduc, Emmanuel’s father.