Monday, July 16, 2007

A long lost monsoon..

The rain had been merciless. Had been the whole night. Beating down on the rooftops. Washing down the dust and grime..

The op was almost deserted. It always was during the first few days of rain. Then slowly, as epidemics of viral fever and respiratory infection erupted and spread, the op would get crowded, the wards overflowing, the staff too falling sick one by one.

My first case was a very draining one..I looked into the worn out eyes of the woman. Her daughter cowered besides her scorched by shame. She wouldn’t look at me.
The rain was gathering momentum. I had to raise my voice to make myself clear.
‘Accept it. Your daughter is four months pregnant. There is no question of abortion now. She will have to deliver the baby.’
The woman stared at me leaned back on the wall, bent her head as if in deep shame, and started to weep.
I glanced at the girl again

Why were women so stupid?

'Yes why so stupid ..?' I wondered again as I drove home that evening.

The wipers wiped off the raindrops falling on the misting windshield. But the rain was persistent. New drops. New patterns on the glass… to be wiped away again and again. I switched on the dim lights of the car, driving cautiously. The wet gleaming roads were skidding. The drains overflowing.

I made a mental note to add more soups in the menu.
Boiling water steeped in tulsi leaves to drink. Panikoorka leaves in the hot bath water…To prevent fever..

I remembered another monsoon and another sixteen year old.. guilty of yielding to empty promises and cajoling lips.

I walked into my house. my younger son was sprawled on the sofa, watching TV.

‘Didn’t go for tuition?’

‘Not feeling well.’

‘Hmm’. His chubby cheeks were flushed. The huge eyes drooping
I stroked his forehead pushing back the long hair. His forhead burned.
‘Ate something’?

‘But you must. Along with your tabs’.


“No tummy aching’.

‘Toast and hot milk.’?

‘As I waited for the milk to boil I thought about Gayathri again.

She kept intruding into my thoughts today... after a long time..

The rain.. the pregnant girl… my son's fever..

I had been in 6th std. It was monsoon..My folks had gone to Kumily to attend a marriage. I had fever. I was to stay back with the new servant girl. Gayathri.

The day passed off fine.

She sat besides me on the floor. Served me hot kanji and pickle.

I felt a bit sick but loved all the attention being lavished on me.

It was drizzling as I slipped off to sleep in the afternoon..

I woke up dreaming that I was drowning in water.

The rain was pattering wildly on the roof. The windows had been closed. The curtains drawn across.

There was no electricity but Aa candle was burning and I was covered with a blanket.

Gayathri looked up from the book she was reading and smiled at me.

‘Chechi called. They will be late.’

‘The road is blocked. Some huge tree fell on the road.’

‘Don’t worry’. The dark gentle eyes smiled at me. Her nose stud flashed in the dim light.
‘I am here. You sleep for some more time’

I closed my eyes. The rain was persistent. Gathering momentum.

It started from the pit of my gut. A small shiver. My core felt frozen .. waves of chill spread all over my body. My teeth chattered. I was shivering.

‘Molu.. Molu..’ I could hear gayathri call urgently. She was rubbing my hands and feet. Running here and there covering me with more blankets.

‘Molu take this..’

I opened my mouth ,she poured hot kanji water into my mouth. The hot scalding liquid scorched my throat pleasurably. I opened my mouth gulping down more and more as I felt it warming my core filling my hunger..

I slowly opened my eyes the dark eyes smiled reassuringly. The nose stud flashed.

‘Sleep’.She whispered.

‘I am here’
She sat besides me on the floor and started to sing.

'What’s that ..?' I murmured sleepily.


I lay with my eyes closed. Drifting off to dreamless sleep..

I woke up to feel soft hands on my cheeks.

‘ Better?’

My mom sat on the bed. Morning light flitted in through the open windows. Raindrops dripped softly the leaves of the guava tree outside. It had stopped raining.

‘Hmm better’. I smiled sleepily hugging her.

‘My son drank the hot milk and ate the toast. I gave him the tabs and tucked him in his bed.I looked forwards to the rainy evening ahead. My hubby was out of station. He would be coming the next day only. The trains were cancelled.

Some tree had fallen on the tracks.

I looked forwards to reading late into night cocconed under the blanket ..drinking coca.. while the rest of the world slept .. the rain pattering wildly on the roof .. the wind howling at the windows..

But somehow I couldn’t read.. I kept thinking about Gyathri..

I adored Gayathri after that. I loved the way her tummy jiggled under the half sari as she ran around cleaning, cooking and washing. Her glass bangles clashing, her payals dancing.

She made unniapams for tea.. sweet crunchy ones..

She gave me warm water steeped in tulsi leaves to drink and mixed crushed panikoorka leaves in my hot bath water ( To prevent fever she would smile at me ).

My uniforms were dazzling and neatly pressed.. she braided my hair deftly..

She would sit besides me singing narayaneeyam as I slipped of to sleep at night.

The sky was over cast when I returned home from school, one evening to find that she had gone.


My mom would not tell why.

'When would she be back?"

No she wouldn’t be back.

‘Go out and play.’

My mom looked distracted. Upset.


Didn’t She notice that it was drizzling outside?

I never saw gayathri again.

My confusion about her was cleared years later..

My grandfather had been buried the previous day. I sat watching an old man poking the canvas roof of the pandal from below with his huge umbrella. The pandal was sagging with the previous night’s rain. I watched water flowing down from the sides of the canvas with each poke..


I turned around to see my mom with a seven year old girl.

‘Remember Gayathri ?’

‘ Gayathri’?

Memories of a long lost monsoon.. Deft hands braiding my hair.. sweet crunchy unniappama.. The sound of rain gathering momentum… Fever and chills..Hot liquid burning my throat... Nose stud flashing in candlelight… Gentle eyes smiling reassuringly… A husky voice reading narayaneeyam..

‘Gayathri? Where is she?’

‘Didn’t you know? Gayathri died in her childbirth.’


I looked at the skinny girl. Huge lonely eyes gazed at me. Unruly curls framed the cute face.

‘Her father married again…?’ I guessed

‘What father?’ ‘Molu, Gayathri was betrayed.’

‘Betrayed? But you never told me?’

‘You were too young at that time to understand.’

‘She trusted the new police constable. Didn’t know that he was already married. He never returned to the village. She was expecting him to come for her when she came to work for us.


‘It was too late when I came to know.. she was almost four months pregnant .

Why were women so stupid..?' I wondered again.

I slipped into the bed hugging my sleeping son. His body was cool . The fever had left him.

I lay sleepless hugging him..

The rain was gathering momentum.. again..

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Mr. MN is a regular patient in our hospital. A 70 yr old hypertensive and a diabetic, he comes for regular checkup.
Every one abhors him.
Cos of his rudeness.

He picks up a fight with everyone. To the op counter clerk, to the doctors, to the sisters, to lab staff’ to the x-ray technician’ to the pharmacist.

Added to it he has patches of leucoderma all over his body and his snarling face.

Today morning I walked towards my room. And there stood Mr MN commenting rudely about doctors arriving late for duty. The fact that I was a bit late added to my irritation. I walked in head high as if I had not heard him.

The lady hospital attendant walked in looking fraught.
'Horrible man.' He was abusing you very badly.
Before I could reply. Before I could lay down my bag and take my steth out Mr. MN barged into the room muttering loudly about doctors coming late. He sat down on the chair.
I couldn’t trust my self to speak. I just placed my bag on my table and walked out.
To control myself or to teach him a lesson? I don’t know. Maybe both.

I returned about five minutes later. He sat staring at me coldly.

‘Come sit here. I pointed on the stool besides me.’

‘ Oh ! You have only a stool for examining patients? ‘
He glared at me.
I pretended not to hear.

‘Hmm tell me your symptoms.’

‘I have pain abdomen and numbness both legs and feet.’

'Hmm any vomiting?'

‘No. I had told about my pain abdomen to the doc who had seen me last time. He gave me some stupid medicines. I have no relief.’


‘Is your blood sugar under control..? Show me the results.’

He took out the report.

‘That’s the report. Who knows if anyone can trust the lab reports?’

It went on and on. Me asking questions softly and him being bitchy.

I asked him to remove his shirt and lie down on the couch so that I could examine his tummy. Then I examined both the legs in detail. Talking very pleasantly and softly.

Slowly the rudeness started to crumble. He started to wring his hands shyly while answering my questions. His voice became soft.

I came back and sat down.

‘You seem to have hyperacidity
Are you under any tension?’

‘Yes doc. He said quietly.’

He then talked for forty minutes non-stop. Yes he had a lot of tension in his life. His wife suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.
Since the past thirty years.
She doesn’t go out of the house. She is paranoid of every one. Doesn’t trust anyone. Even their grandchildren.

He talked and talked I listened.

Finally I advised the tabs he had to take and the diet he had to follow. In detail.

He quietly listened.

He got up to leave. Reached the door and turned back
He smiled at me.

‘I’m sorry doc. Sometimes I cant help my self. I behave rudely I know.’
‘I understand. Its cos of your family problems. I smiled back.’

The poor poor man.

I had been seeing him for the past several years. But I had not bothered to find out the kind of life he lived.
‘Treat the ‘person’ not the disease.’ I remembered reading somewhere.
So true.

I looked forwards to seeing Mr. MN the next time.