This short story is selected as Story of the Month Dec’2012 and won INR 1000 (US $20)
Editor’s Choice: Hilarious Story – DOCTOR sahib
4th June 7.32 am
“I wake up early in the morning sir, then like every day, I went for my first morning duty…for two number (showing his two fingers, a common Indian hand sign symbolizing defecation) around 7 in the morning…in the farm. I sat there in the bush with my lota , it’s along bush sir, so nobody can see. And then as soon as I sat, I took a deep breath taking Bajrang Bali’s name and within two minutes sir, my stomach got totally cleared..!!” with a smile “Thanks to you doctor..” and he shook hands with me eagerly.
It was a common practice among the villagers. They placed a doctor and God on the same pedestal, blamed them when things went wrong and worshipped them when something went right, and this gentleman, had come to me two days back with symptoms of constipation. I guessed my prescription had worked.
“But sir, when I started washing, after one…no actually after two swipes, I felt something in my hand, something soft…” I immediately regretted shaking hands with him, while he continued in his antsy style “…. when I turned back to look, I saw it was this dead man’s hand….”
Sister Tiwari, the oldest and the most experienced nurse of our hospital, who was till now eagerly listening to this narration, in desperation, asked “and then?”
“Then what..! I threw away my lota, tucked in my dhoti..and…”
I was by now getting frustrated with this useless explanation. This person had brought in the dead body, dragging it all the way on a blue tarpaulin sheet. My simple question to him was, where had he found the corpse? On top of that, the sister’s eagerness was making me further impatient.
So I looked at her with wide eyes, and tauntingly said “And then, they both shook hands…you got it?”
She took my hint and quietly disappeared into the examination room.
Getting back to some serious work, I walked to the corpse who had been moved onto a stretcher by now. He was an old guy, in his seventies, I guessed. The numerous wrinkles that ran into each other on his pale face suggested the same. He was dressed in the typical transparent white kurta and dhoti. I moved to feel for the absence of pulse over his wrist, but when I recollected the person’s dirty narration, and also for the fact that I wasn’t wearing any gloves, I moved my fingers to his neck. After checking for a few seconds, as expected, there was no pulse. Further I checked for the second sign, the pupil, even they didn’t respond to the flash of light and were permanently dilated. There were no injury marks on his body, nor there were any obvious signs of poisoning, it was almost safe to say that it had been a natural death.
While examining the body, I asked “So, then you brought him directly here…by the way, do you know him?”
He replied, “Yes sir, he is Bhola chacha. I have informed his son, he is coming here.”
And the very next moment, a huge looking guy dashed into the examination room with other three smaller fellows trundling behind him.
“Where is my father?” he demanded.
He was the dead man’s son. On seeing his father lying on the stretcher, he started crying like a small child and then suddenly turned to me “What has happened to him doctor saab?”
Now came the difficult job for me, but I had to do it. Somehow I gathered some courage and trying to hide my fear, kept a hand on his shoulder and carefully weighing my tone, I said “He ….is dead.”
Expectedly, all hell had broken loose “What!!! How did this happen? How could he just..You do something, doctor, please….”
The only thing I could really do at that moment was issuing a death certificate, but I kept mum. Angering the villagers was not good for the health of the hospital. And this was no time for sarcastic jokes and by now I had begun sweating heavily, my arms were hurting in the tight grip of this big man. Finally, the guy who had delivered the corpse interrupted. “Brother, uncle was dead in the farm, I brought him here.”
He proved to be my savior. Listening to him, the hefty guy once again broke into tears and started shouting “Oh God, you should have taken me up…..why my baapu..?”
I almost smiled at this stupid question. But then looking at the other three villagers quietly watching the scene like stooges, I put up a serious face and patted his shoulders, “Such are His ways”, I said.
Everybody tuned their heads to look outside as we heard a shrill cry. It was an old woman, wailing, she was at least 100 meters away from the hospital and a group of curious on lookers was following her from a safe distance, “Arey….Bhima’s father, why did you do this unfairness to me..?”
She was surely the dead man’s wife, only a wife cannot stop blaming a man, even after he is dead.
As soon as she reached her husband, she started crying heavily, beating on his chest, in a typical Indian womanish way, making it look as if she was giving some kind of cardiopulmonary resuscitation, that too to a dead person. It was amazing how much strength this frail old woman had. The beats were so hard that the stiff corpse shook each time she thumped. For a moment, I thought, the dead man would get up and shout, “Stop it woman. Let me rest in peace.”
Finally, after a long drama, some of the nurses and the dead man’s relatives calmed down the old woman who was reluctant to leave the side of her dead husband. I felt a pang of sadness. Just then, the hefty guy came to me and asked for the Death Certificate.
Usually, my practice would be to tell the relatives to go to the district hospital for getting the death certificate, as the post mortem was done only there. Most of the times the relatives would find it too difficult to travel till district hospital and get a post mortem done, and invariably I would end up accepting some bribe, in exchange for the death certificate without the post mortem, declaring it a natural death.
But this time, I was in no mood for a referral, and also the death seemed to be a natural one, so I quickly handed them the certificate, after getting an ECG done from the private clinic in the village. Taking that, they moved the body out of the hospital in what was a sad procession. Even my nurses got involved and stood by the door, dabbing the corners of their eyes with handkerchiefs as they watched the procession go out of sight.
Such was the start of my day, in the Primary Health Centre, Katoriya village in the Banka district of Bihar.
Banka district has been famous for its people, their braveness, and that is probably the reason I encounter many injured patients every other day. But it wasn’t their fault, as the name ‘Banka’ itself means brave, so when a child is born, he is brainwashed in his growing years by the parents and mostly the remnants of the society to be brave, many a times unnecessarily.
I had been in Katoriya, since 2 months, working as a Medical Officer, after completing my MBBS from Darbhanga Medical College in Laheriasarai, Bihar. I had joined here because I had to support my family, and also partly because it was getting difficult for me to crack the post-graduate course entrance exams.
It was 8.45 in the clock, the commotion of early morning had all but subsided, leaving the nurses free for gossiping about it for the rest of the day. I started walking out of the hospital to my room. I had to get ready for the morning OPD which usually started at 9:50-10 am, though sometimes after 10:30 am. That was because sometimes the peon failed to wake me up. My sleep had quickly become immune to the sound of the doorbell and the poor guy had to find new ways to wake me up. Mostly he would try to poke me with a stick through the window near my bed. That usually worked.
My room was the third in the row and I had to walk by Sister Mishra and Pharmacist Chandi’s rooms to get there.
When I was passing by the sister’s room, she was hanging her washed clothes on the rope tied outside her room for drying. She was a 25 year old, fair, north Indian beauty. The most beautiful face you could find within a 50 km radius around the hospital, the hot blooded guys from the surrounding villages didn’t mind inflicting a few bruises on themselves just to have a look at her.
I saw her putting her inner garments over the rope, but as soon as she saw me coming, she hid those by a pulling the adjacent sari over it, but it was a silky, semi-transparent sari and didn’t serve any purpose, which she noticed and further placed a thick bed sheet over it. I chuckled, wondering how those clothes would dry in time. It was an embarrassing moment for her, and she did what most beautiful girls do. She gave me a killer smile and blabbered something, “Good morning sir… it was drizzling in the morning.”
I had always been a sarcastic kind of guy in college and never gave anyone straight answers, and that habit had persisted here too.
“Oh really! I didn’t know, I was on moon in the morning.” I replied.
Sister Mishra, in her complaining girly (luring) tone said “What sir, you always make fun of me.”
Her smile and her nakhras had already cast their spell on me and now I had to apologize, “Ok baba, I am sorry, I will try to contain my words next time.” The words automatically came out of my mouth.
Watching all this from the adjacent room, with a wicked smile, was the Pharmacist Chandi Prajapati, a short-statured 42 year old man, in his customary striped, off-white shirt and a black pant which rose up to his umbilicus, and fell a few inches short off his ankle, with a black belt supporting it. His surname perfectly depicted his pervert character, ‘Prajapati’ which meant ‘husband of the pupil’.
When I waved to him, he replied by waving to me with a smile, showing his reddish-black, stained teeth, a result of many years of betel nut chewing.
Wasting no time, I moved to my room, quickly had bath, dressed in formals and I reached my cabin by 10 am to tackle the morning’s OPD patients.
They were mostly the same old cases everyday with the exception of a few whom I would refer to the higher centre. Most of them had the problem of GBA i.e. general body ache, weakness, fever or occasionally loose motions and the only remedy they would insist me to give was the magic injection. Half of their ailments would get cured just by pricking them. The general Indian rural folk are more or less infatuated with injections and are always more than willing to expose their butts for a prick or two, as if it were some pious deed and it would absolve them of all their ailments. It is the same situation with i.v.’s.
When I was new to this place, I wouldn’t administer an injection, until it seemed absolutely necessary. But then the patients would invariably come back and stand before me, begging for an injection. I was fed up of this habit of the villagers but could do nothing as I knew that somewhere down the line it was surely the fault of some injection wielding doctors who had instilled this belief among the easily convinced villagers. I once thought of inventing some injection vending machine where a person could press the ailment button and stand touching their buttocks to a place from where a needle would come and pierce their flesh.
Some patients were the real actors. One such was an old lady, who I saw(heard) was arguing in full swing with the peon over some issue, but as soon as she entered my cabin, her backbone bent over almost twice as it was earlier, bending showing the weakness, and making constipated faces. And then, as I expected, the next sentence would be “Doctor, I…am feeling tooooo weak, please put some saline in me, and yes, please give some good tonic and yes an ointment too, these days joints are paining a lot, and yes, please give one injection….there’s no one of this lady in this world, beta.”
I would think it a waste of time arguing with such aunties, so I would silently prescribe them something.
But, I broke my silence when she came back and requested for the last thing…the eye drops, to keep at home for emergency.
“Yes aunty, I will do one thing, I will prescribe this whole hospital to you, take the whole hospital with you and go.”
She would then move out quietly, but as soon as she stepped out, she would start talking loudly “What type of doctor is he? Is this the way you talk to an old woman. He is not right.”
By now, I am used to such behavior, so I hardly respond.
Just like there comes a Sunday after every six dreary days of the week; after watching so many uninteresting patients, comes the moment when someone enters the cabin who brightens up the dull proceedings, an eye soother, a beautiful girl, the best among the available lot and a patient too. This time, it was Rachna, a local girl.
As soon as she sat on the chair and handed me her case paper, the first thing I did was to memorize her name, age and her village, for further reference. And then, with a smile on my face, as if I am the jolliest kind of person in this world, I asked, “So, what happened to you?” My voice showed a sense of surprise and concern at the same time.
Even she was interested in me as I was a doctor. She said, “Actually na, some five days back, I think on Sunday, I was feeling feverish, with chills, then I went to the private doctor in the village. He gave me some medicines, after having that my fever would subside, but just for some hours, after which I would feel the same again. And now, I am having vomiting and headache too…”
After listening to the symptoms, I started with examination. To start with, I asked for her right hand, to which she shifted her small handkerchief from right to left hand, and shyly kept her hand in my hand. I held her soft fair hand and felt for the pulse. I was nervous; because even in college I hardly spoke to any girl, so forget about holding hands. I wasn’t able to feel her pulse properly; instead I was feeling my capillary pulse as it was beating faster now as my fingers palpated her wrist. Then I looked over her forehead to check for fever and also for the kumkum, to confirm whether she was single or not, and then her deep bluish- black eyes for the pallor. Her vitals were normal, but as per her history, I suspected it to be a case of malaria.
So, I said, “Look Rachna, I think it is a malaria fever…”
She quickly responded “Malaria!! Now sir?”
I smiled to her “Don’t worry, I am here for you…er.. I mean you will be cured, just take the medicines and one injection, and yes, do the blood test too, ok?”
Hearing the word ‘injection’, she got worried “Sir pleassseee…. no injection.” She pleaded so lovingly, I was damned if I gave her an injection now.
“Ok ok, no injection, but the blood test is necessary haan.”
Rachna, in her subdued voice “Will it hurt a lot?”
I, smiling again, held her hand, I never left a chance. “No, just a small prick here over the ring finger. Ok for you, I will do it myself, will that be ok, now smile.”
She took the hint in my tone and gave me a shy smile, and moved outside the cabin with me, while I talked to her about her college, her home.
The laboratory was an isolated place in the hospital, the perfect place to be with a fine specimen of the opposite sex. But alas, all I was supposed to do was prick those soft, pink fingers. We both sat in front of each other. Then I took a slide and a lancet to prick her. I held her ring finger and swabbed it with spirit. Holding her finger in one hand and the lancet in the other, how I wished I had an engagement ring instead of lancet in my hand. But then, I knew it could be just in dreams, so accepting the fact, I moved on to do the procedure. After taking her blood for the test, dejectedly I moved to my cabin while she went to collect the medicines from the counter of Chandi. I just prayed God, to save her from Chandi’s talks.
My next patient was an old guy. He said “Sir, two days back..”
I stopped him and shouted “What is happening to you now, tell that, not about two days back. Go ahead…quick, I have patients waiting outside.”
To that, he told that he had GBA, I shook my head, another one. I scribbled a prescription for him, he moved out.
Suddenly, a tall, thin man in light brown colored safari entered the cabin, talking on his mobile with one hand holding an old lady. He was limping; probably he had some abnormality with his leg. He made the old lady sit near me, while he himself pulled a chair and sat in front of me, opposite the table and then ending the conversation, he kept the mobile over the table and said “Namaskar, myself Ghanshyam Gupta, brother of Indar Gupta.”
Indar Gupta was the sarpanch of Katoriya village, a person full of pride and ego, always thirsty for respect.
– “Oh namaskar sir, so why a visit over here today?”
The upper three buttons of his safari suit were open to making two heavy gold chains and a bumper crop of chest hair visible. But, at the same time, a part of the cheap vest full of holes was also visible. Scratching the neck like the famous actor Raj Kumar, he said “Nothing, my mother in law came to my place yesterday. She was feeling weak, so I brought her here to get the saline.”
I proceeded to measure the old lady’s blood pressure, having a chat with Gupta at the same time. And then something totally unexpected happened.
Rachna entered my cabin, probably to say goodbye to me, I thought, as I smiled at her. But watching her, Gupta spoke up,“Arey Rachna beti, you here? What happened? Come here.”
Rachna came and sat on the chair next to Gupta. I was clueless as to what was going on.
Rachna “Dad, actually nothing much, it’s just a mild fever.” She looked at me as if pleading me not to tell her father that I thought it was Malaria. Not that I was going to, but then came the salvo.
“Ok ok,. Did you meet the uncle and get the medicines” he said pointing towards me.
What a freak.. he just called me UNCLE!! The hairy bastard..How could he use that word for me? I was just a 24 year old guy, soon to be 25. Rachna looked up at me and clearly suppressed an urge to smile looking at my face. I wondered, what was going on in her mind for me. It felt as if my entire hard work to impress the girl went in vain.
She just said “Yes dad.” Then she looked at me for half a second and quickly left. How I wished I could kill Gupta.
I was totally dejected and was least interested in examining the old lady further. So I ordered Sister Tiwari to fix her the saline. Everyone moved out of the cabin, but then after some 5 minutes, when the old lady was shifted to the ward, to my surprise, Rachna came walking hastily to my cabin and waved me goodbye, with the beautiful smile. I was still very much there in the game.
4th June 12.25 am
It was five minutes to close the case paper counter, when a man came running “Where is the doctor?”
Everyone panicked, even the patients waiting outside. On being directed by the peon Sanki, he directly came inside my cabin and taking heavy breaths, he said “Doctor, I …I …drank acid.”
After hearing that, I was startled. “What!” I quickly directed him to move to the examination room and ordered Sister Tiwari to get the antidote solution.
Suddenly, the patient held my hand, stopping me and said “Doctor, I had drunk the acid two days back, for which I went to the doctor. It’s not the problem now.”
“What! Then what is the problem?” I felt foolish almost.
Patient “Doctor, lets get into the cabin first.”
We both moved in the cabin. He better have a good reason or he was going to have it from me now.
Patient “Sir, actually the problem is that nowadays, I get angry easily and that too on anybody. I can’t control my temper, is that because of that acid?”
I was lost for words. “Huh..!! For this you came here running. And why were shouting for doctor as if it was some emergency?”
Patient “That is the thing sir; I can’t control my temper, my aggression. That is why I am hyperactive always.”
I felt like shouting at him for the scene that he had just created, but then I realized it was going to be like banging my own head against a wall, looking at this well built person and recollecting his temper problem, I calmly explained him to ease out his worry and then gave him some sedatives.
After he moved out, every other patient would ask me “What had happened to the acid patient, how it happened, is he fine now, which village?”
My answer was to give them an angry look; I was in no mood to chat. I quickly finished the rest of the morning OPD and moved to my room to have lunch.
Having done that, I quickly undressed and embraced by bed to catch up on some sleep, keeping the back door open to let some air in. There was no current and thus no fan, but it was not hard to fall asleep as the weather had become nice and cool due to the mild showers that had started this morning, and also the fact that I had woken up early and was quite tired.
The next thing I remember is the voice of this village lady, trying to wake me up
“Doctor sahib…doctor sahib.”
Through hazy vision and lost mind, I woke up from the anesthetic sleep; I wasn’t able to grasp what was happening. I thought I was disoriented for a moment because she was standing in the doorway with her back towards me and she had pulled the pallu of her sari over her face as if to hide her identity. But, after a few seconds, I realized that I wasn’t having anything over my body except the boxer short, that was the reason the lady was talking to me while looking at the walls, and I was considering her having a squint eye. I pulled the towel and wrapped to cover my bare half and annoyingly said, “What are you doing here? Can’t you knock the front door?”
She “Doctor sahib, I was knocking the door from the last 10 minutes, after which I came here. Sir, my husband has been bit by a scorpion.”
I “Ok ok…you go, I am coming.”
When I reached her husband, sister had already administered him with xylocaine, and he was feeling much better.
I moved to him to check his vitals “So the pain has decreased?”
He “Yes sir.”
I “By the way, what size was the scorpion?”
He proceeded to remove a crumbled handkerchief his pocket, and kept it on the table. I thought for a moment that he was going to make an origami replica of the scorpion to show me the actual size, I laughed at his wit. But, when he opened it, I was shocked to see that he had brought the scorpion with him “What the fish is this!”
“No sir, no fish, this is that scorpion.”
“Why the hell did you bring it here!!?”
“Sir, last time when I was stung by a scorpion, the doctor had asked me a thousand questions as to how long was the scorpion, its color, did I kill it, bury it, and God knows what more, to which I wasn’t able to answer anything properly. So this time, I deliberately brought this fellow with me, so that all your doubts get cleared.”
The heir has to reap the fruits of the deeds of ancestors, someone has said. I had to pay for what the earlier doctor had done.
I hate scorpions.
4th June 5 pm
Today, there were fewer patients for the evening OPD, and the one that came were the regular ones; the GBA’s who would come here to get their monthly medicine ration.
But the last one was an entertainer. He was a 67 year old man. Handing over his case paper, he sat on the chair. I was going through his name, when suddenly I heard a hissing sound. I jumped in my seat; snakes were a common sight in this place and I hated the thought of having one in my cabin. I looked around but didn’t notice anything on the floor near my feet, Half my thoughts occupied by that dreaded sound, absent mindedly, I proceeded to ask him,
“What happened?” and as soon as I touched the pen tip over the paper to write his complain there was that hissing noise once again. It was unmistakable, I was sure that there was a snake hiding somewhere in my cabin. I pulled my legs over the seat of the chair and told the patient to do the same.
To that, he looked at me and asked, “What happened doctor saab?”
“There is possibly a snake in here. Didn’t you hear the hissing noise?”
I had just completed my question, when I found my animal. It was the patient himself who was making that hissing sound; he seemed to have this habit of pulling his lips over one side of face and making that absurd sound.
I reacted the way I think anyone would have reacted. I shouted at the human reptile “What the…why are you making that noise?”
I repeated the question, to which he repeated the “What?”
I was still shouting at him, when Chandi entered the place “Sir, there is no use in shouting at him, he can’t hear a thing, he is as deaf as a hen.”
I calmed down at once. “Oh.. really?”
Chandi “You want to test him, ask him anything.”
I turned to the old man “What happened?”
He “My joints are paining and back too.”
I turned to Chandi again “Chandi, don’t make fun of the poor fellow, he can hear me properly.”
Chandi “Sir, you just go on with your questions.”
– “Is your joint swollen?”
He nodded to that, signifying a sure yes, while Chandi just signalled me to go on.
He again nodded in the same way.
Chandi interrupted “Sir, now let me ask.”
He tapped the old man and assuming a serious expression on his face, said, “Can I marry your daughter?”
Old man nodded.
Chandi continued, making a pitiful face “Isn’t your wife hot?”
The old man copied Chandi’s expressions and said,” It is a real pain sahab, please do something about it”
Unable to control my laughter, I tried to cover my face as if trying to suppress a yawn. It was hard not to smile.
Chandi was unstoppable. He held his head and said, “Is world going to end in 2012?”
The old man predicted it to happen.
But after a few seconds, I felt bad for the poor fellow. We were doing wrong, making a fun of a person’s disability. So, I stopped Chandi in his antics, examined the old chap and prescribed him the appropriate medicines, also I wrote him a referral letter to the district hospital, so that he could get himself a free hearing aid from there.
It had been drizzling throughout the afternoon, but now the sky had partly cleared and there was a nice breeze blowing. It was perfect weather for an evening stroll and I was longing to have the Litti chokhas and tea at the Ramkhilawan’s tapri. My partner, as always was Chandi. Even though he was middle aged, his enthusiasm level of the stout, little fellow was like that of a college boy, and yes, the perversion level too.
We both walked through the muddy road to Ramkhilawan’s tapri at the village market. It was quite crowded with people, as Ramkhilawan’s home made Litti chokhas were popular with the village folk. Litti chokha is a famous Bihari snack, made of groundnuts and mashed potatoes. Ramkhilawan greeted us and quickly cleaned a wooden bench with his gamcha, a tattered piece of cloth that he carried over his shoulders all the time. Actually, most north Indian rural folk use a gamcha. It’s an all-purpose accessory used as handkerchief, napkin, duster, bandana, carpet and what not depending on the situation, a purely Indian invention.
“Doctor, have a seat.”
He then proceeded to order his son, who helped him at the shop, to serve us the snacks and tea.
The small boy served us the delicacy in a paper plate and the hot tea in the mud kullhad.
“Saab, the weather is just perfect for hot tea and my Litti’s always taste better in the rains, you will enjoy them.”
Chandi meanwhile, was making absurd noises while sipping his tea “Really Ramu, this is just sexy..”
Ramkhilawan didn’t understand the word “What? What Chandi babu?”
“Tasty…he meant tasty.” I explained in civil words.
‘Sexy’ was Chandi’s favorite adjective and he used it liberally, many a times even before the female staff.
Rejuvenated by the tea, we decided to extend our walk and go to the nearby lake.
By the time we reached there, Chandi was in full flow with his interesting observations of the female staff in the hospital.
“What sir, in the morning, Sister Mishra was giving you the signal, didn’t you get a beep on your radar, my tower was getting full signal..”
– “Chandi enough, she is a sister, I mean a nurse by profession, it even sounds absurd of having an affair with a sister.. or nurse.. or whatever.. Yukk.”
Chandi “Sir, but seriously she likes you, you know, whenever she talks to me, she only asks me about you.”
Flattery was an art that Chandi was skilled at, but I knew all his moves, so I just laughed away his comments.
Time flew quickly and as we reached the hospital, it was almost 9 in the clock. A small crowd had gathered in the waiting area. Usually I left the management of such flash mobs to Sister Tiwari who was highly experienced in doing that, she had learnt much more about handling emergencies in her real life experience as a nurse. Rote learning the answers just for exams and bunking postings and a large part of internship didn’t exactly make me adept at handling emergencies.
But as soon as I reached the hospital entrance, Sanki, directed the whole crowd to me and handed the patient’s papers.
Sanki was talking to the crowd in his usual rude manner. He was the head peon of the hospital. His actual name was Kisna, but owing to his quirky nature, especially towards patients, he had earned this new name. ‘Sanki’ meant ‘maniac’. He had a history of beating up patients for arguing with him.
I was silently hoping that Sister Tiwari would handle the situation but she was nowhere to be seen. There was quite a commotion and I had to bang the table to make them quiet.
“Where’s the patient?”
To that, they all presented me before a lady with a swollen abdomen. She looked pregnant.
But I didn’t panic, as I knew Sister Tiwari was an expert in conducting deliveries.
“Sanki, where’s Sister Tiwari?”
“Sir, she went home, today’s duty is of Sister Menka.” Sanki retorted.
How I wished I had not bribed my college clerk into marking my attendance in Obstetrics and Gynecology postings and actually had attended some of them. I was blank as a page. And the bonus missile on me was Sister Menka.
In Indian mythology, it is a famous story of how the apsara Menka interrupted the penance of Vishwamitra, by luring him with her charms. But in my case, this Menka disturbed me, not by her looks, but by her talks, asking silly questions all the time. She was so unconfident that she used to ask me even before placing a needle over the syringe. And today it was the great delivery challenge. God save the baby.
Sister Menka entered the place. She looked already nervous, looking at the crowd.
I confidently ordered her “Sister Menka, take the patient to the labor ward, and tell me how much the cervical dilatation is.” I had to act confident or all was lost, and acting is an inherent part of the medical profession.
To my surprise, she straight away followed my order, but after a few minutes, as I had foreseen, she called me in to see the dilation, as she was not able to find the cervix.
I ordered Sanki to take care of the crowd. They dispersed as soon as I took his name. So far so good. I took a deep breath and went inside the labor room.
The dilatation was one finger loose and also the lady was having labor pains. After going through the papers I heaved a sigh of relief. This was her second child and all her investigations were normal. It was 9:30 pm and I knew that it would take her about an hour to get to four finger dilatation, so I decide to have dinner and then get back to work.
4th June 10.30 pm
I was eagerly waiting for the time to move further. I wanted the delivery to get over as soon as possible, and obviously with a favorable outcome.
I moved on to examine the dilatation. It had increased to three fingers loose.
I asked the pregnant lady “Is the baby moving?”
“Yes.” She said, breathing a little heavily.
I confirmed the fetal well being by measuring the fetal heart rate with a stethoscope, though I had heard it only a couple of times earlier, I got it right away and it was around 150 beats per minute, which was very normal for a foetus.
Ordering Sister Menka to monitor the patient every 15 minutes, I retreated to my cabin.
Nodding to my orders doubtfully, she stood close to the patient, continuously watching over her, which I thought wasn’t much of a help, but it seemed futile to explain her what monitoring meant in that situation, so I left her to sort it out herself.
I went to my cabin to have some rest over my chair. I took out my mobile and saw that the time. It was 11 pm. Leaning over the table, I rested my head over folded hands and was asleep in a tick.
My sleep was disturbed when I heard Sister Menka in a loud voice calling me “Sashank Sir, the baby is coming..!”
Coming from Sister Menka’s mouth, I knew that those words could have meant absolutely anything, but mostly they meant trouble, so I rushed into the operatory. She had been quite literal about it and really the baby’s head was near the vaginal opening.
“Sister, why didn’t you call me earlier?”
She dumbly replied “I wasn’t feeling any problem earlier. It is now that I felt the problem.”
I wanted to reprimand her for using such layman terms and also for not monitoring the descent of the baby, but the pregnant lady needed more attention at that moment, so ignoring Menka, I moved on to motivate the lady “Push rani…push.”
‘Rani’ was the common name for all pregnant women. Whoever came to the labor ward, was called by the name ‘Rani’.
Watching me motivating Rani to push and the progressive descent of the baby’s head near the vaginal introitus, Sister Menka also got the confidence.
She started shouting loudly at Rani “Push rani…push…c’mon push.”
Menka was so involved in doing that, she didn’t even notice that all of us were silent and were watching her shouting.
Finally, I calmed her “Menka….Menka..Its her labor, let her show the vigour, why are you showing it?”
Everyone in the ward started laughing, Rani too, then suddenly she recollected that she was in labor and again started with the straining and gasping.
The lady next to Rani was fanning her with her pallu, a completely useless exercise, but frequently seen in old Bollywood movies. When I told her that the ceiling fan was moving, she stopped it.
Rani was continuously pushing, but in the middle of labor, she got exhausted. The baby’s head was about to deliver. At such a time she couldn’t afford to stop the descent as it would endanger baby’s life.
So, we motivated her to give a few better pushes, I suddenly recollected how Sister Tiwari would stand on the chair next to delivery table and would push over the patient’s abdomen to get the baby out.
I quickly started doing that. Initially, I was being gentle in doing that, but when I saw that it was showing no results, I increased the force of my push. Meanwhile, I was feeling some sudden intermittent vibrations on my left chest wall. I panicked for a moment, it was going to be no less than a disaster if a doctor had a heart attack while performing a simple delivery. But soon I realized that it was in fact my cell phone that was vibrating in my shirts pocket. I couldn’t possibly receive the call, had more pressing matters at hand.
Finally, our hard work paid off, and in a few minutes that resembled an eternity, the most difficult part of labor, of getting the head out of the introit’s was done.
The moment the head was out, the two lady companions of the patient, quickly left her side and stood behind me to see it and asked, “What is it, boy or girl?”
I shouted at them “The genitals are not located on the head. It’s in the lower part. Let it deliver first.”
They understood that I was angry for that foolish behaviour and tiptoed back to their place.
Eventually the baby was delivered. It was crying well, and otherwise looked healthy. But Rani’s companions were especially excited after seeing its genitals as it was a boy, as they all wanted. I looked at the clock; it was 12:07 am.
I directed sister to note down the time of birth and the birth weight.
Sister Menka nodded while she cut the umbilical cord and removed the placenta, the only work in which she was a perfectionist, as most of the time, even the other sisters would give her the same easy work.
As soon as the baby was in the relative’s hands, the companions left the mother as if they didn’t know her and started celebrating the baby’s birth.
The mother and son both were in good condition. Sister Menka was doing the post delivery procedures, while I moved out of the labor ward. Passing through the mob of relatives thanking me, I moved to my cabin.
I was exhausted, as it had been strenuous labor for me too. So, I rested my head over the back of my chair.
Suddenly I felt the vibrations again. I took out my mobile out of my pocket. It showed ‘Javed calling’. I pressed the green button.
“Hey Javed, how come you called after so many days?”
Javed “Achha beta, by the way, where are you?”
– “At the hospital.”
Javed “Ok, you ra*cal, then why were you not picking up my call?”
– “You were the one calling me all the time! Couldn’t you wait for sometime? I was delivering a baby.”
Javed “No, I can’t wait….by the way…Happy birthday.. To both of you.”
I turned my eyes to my watch. It showed 5 June 12.22 am.
It was my birthday.
“Thank you Javed.” I said.