DR ISHAN MALHOTRA
I am still in surgery. Operating a father like figure, hell, its Avni’s father and my hands are trembling, don’t know why. I have performed many open heart surgeries till now, and never before did I become nervous like this. Tonight was different, as it was Avni’s father before me in the operation theatre. Many times I thought what if I fail in saving the man? Will Avni ever accept me as her friend even? What if he dies because of some other reason, will she accept me? Damn! I am supposed to fix a man here, and not think about some stupid probabilities. A surgery is like gambling – nothing is fixed. Doesn’t matter if you’re the record winner, one game can change your fate and you can lose even from the beginners. Same was happening with me. I was trying to focus on the surgery but my heart was jumping around like a naughty child.
I examined the heart, the bleeding had stopped and the surgery was almost done. The heart was beating normally, was back into its place and the doctors released a sigh of relief.
‘Sister, pass me the suture…’ the surgery was successful and it was time to stitch the old horse.
A doctor makes you everything. Right now, I’m feeling like a tailor, stitching the torn pieces of cloth, while sometimes I feel like God when I bring a new life into this world. It’s strange, that how, a profession moulds your entire personality. Earlier, I used to feel worthless and useless, but since the day I joined this hospital, I’ve seen people depending upon me and people putting their faith in me. And it made me feel like I was a responsible man who could be trusted. So many people come and thank me after the operations and it feels wonderful inside. My heart knows I’m doing the right job, and so, I have a peaceful sleep every night. What else can anyone want from life apart from peace?
‘But you want Avni too, don’t you?’ the same kid appeared again, as I walked out of the operation theatre! This time, I wanted to shove a pair of scissors right inside his brains, but stopped myself from doing that.
‘How the hell do you know what I want? Hell, who are you first of all?’ I asked him angrily this time.
‘I am your fear. I am your courage. I am your dilemma. I am your solution. I am YOU.’ He said, hugged me and disappeared. I felt as if something mixed with my soul. Now I understood why he was appearing again and again. It was not some random kid, it was ‘me’!
I used to be a frightened and scared child in my school, who preferred to keep all his questions inside him. A kid who was bullied a lot and a kid who was made fun of by the other, smarter kids! No doubt I was intelligent and smart in academics, but overall, I lacked confidence which made me the dumbest child of the school.
I looked at my bloody hands which were not shaking now. The confidence had seeped in somehow, and I removed the gloves, threw them into the bin, washed my hands, removed the surgery dress and the mask, splashed some water on my face and stepped out of the Operation Theatre. Avni and her mother stood there with folded hands and watery eyes. I took a step towards Avni, and she looked at me with eyes full of questions.
‘Congratulations, he’s alright!’ I broke the news, smiled and she hugged me tightly.
I couldn’t believe I was hugging her. Time just stopped and I was lost into the moment. I gently placed my hands on her back. I could feel her thin waist from the tightly fit clothes, and as I moved my hand a little more on her back, I could feel the hook of her bra. Before I could feel anything more, she stepped back in a shudder. I scratched my head and folded my hands to greet her mother who had already defined me in her mind as a – Pervert!
‘Hello, aunty.’ I said in a low voice.
She wiped her tears and returned the gesture with folded hands. In other words, she said – we’re even, now stop thinking about my daughter!
‘Thank you so much, son. I don’t know how to thank you…’
‘But, you just did! Haha, I’m just joking, he’s perfectly fine, and you can meet him in few hours.’ I tried to lighten the environment, but it didn’t affect a middle aged lady who had flown down to hope for a life for her dying husband all the way from Varanasi! She must be cursing Mumbai by now. Of course, leaving the city of Gods to enter city of sins will put you under the knife! My guts were cracking jokes inside, while I was trying to remind myself that this is a serious situation, and that I had to act that way too! Otherwise, she’ll assume me to not only being a pervert who gropes every chance he gets at hugging her daughter, but also as a mentally sick and insane creature who needs psychological attention.
‘I’m from Indore, nice to meet you…’ I said and smiled at her. She made a face and walked away.
Now I understood, why are doctors a species of its own. You put a child under the pile of books the day he attains puberty, and at the same time, expect him to be socially active? It’s like pulling two ends of a single rope, and if the tensile strength is low – it breaks! In this case, I was the rope, and on one side, I was trying to be a good doctor, researching, studying, reading papers and journals and keeping my brain updated about every invention and discovery in medical field of the world, every day, and on the other side, I tried to be socially tolerable by trying to be friendly (or overfriendly!) but I was failing at both of them! My empty diary didn’t let me focus on my research, and the nervousness when I think about Avni, doesn’t help me in becoming socially normal. All in all, I termed myself as one word – Loser!
Till the time I was cursing and suffocating myself with garbled thoughts, Avni’s bangles and their jingling sound disrupted my self-abuse mechanism. I looked at her, as she walked out of the operation theatre, wearing a tight-fit Punjabi-suit, she looked like my wife!
No! Don’t get me wrong, I am not married, I told you I was a frustrated virgin finding a way to the bed, with a girl, (spare the details!), but whenever I imagined my wife, I imagined her like that, just like Avni.
‘Doctor, thank you so much, I don’t know how to thank you…’ Avni said with teary eyes.
‘But, you just did’ was NOT the best answer to the question already asked by her mother, so I tried something else this time, ‘Don’t thank me, thank the almighty.’ I pressed my lips to see if I said a right thing or not, luckily, her smile indicated that I did!
‘Yes! Yes! Yes!’ my heart was bouncing around, but I hid my emotions and walked out. Obviously I didn’t want to creep her out with my awkward and socially-unsuitable habits.
I looked at the watch, it was 01am. I started cursing myself again! I had to come to hospital tomorrow at 08 am again, why bother driving in the middle of the night when I can stab myself right here and get a bed in the hospital itself, I thought about the care that I’ll get and smiled like a fool, it felt so much better to be taken care of in the hospital, than to bump into every other thing at home!
Keeping all the vile, dangerous and potentially harmful thoughts aside, I walked out the main gate and asked for the key of my car to the gatekeeper. He handed over the keys and I thanked him. He too was tired enough to respond. I sat in my car, yawned a few times, cursed my life, my destiny, wished for Avni to be my life partner, accelerated the stupid old machine, and came home.
‘What’s in the dinner, honey?’ Obviously, I have no ‘honey’ waiting upon me at home, so it’s only Dr Ishan, talking to him-self and nothing else!
‘Nothing much honey, just the cold corn-flakes of the morning that you left when you rushed to hospital, and some apples that have rotten in the heat because you forgot to put them in the fridge!’ I cursed myself for the last time, and went to bed – hungry.
‘I swear Avni, the day you’ll come into my life, first thing you have to do for me is, make me warm, tasty home-made food, every day!’ I crashed into my bed and immediately fell asleep.