A temporary badge tied on my wrist read, “Kr. Nr. 2003/005669803”.
The orthopaedic surgeon just came on the round and told his verdict in a loud but broken English, “We made your ankle again. Operation go gut. You must not komm out bed naxte three week”.
I could not hear any more. Few tears fell from my dizzy eyes and wetted my dried cheeks. There was, however, no one to see those useless H2O molecules; even Herr Arzt (Mr. Doctor) had left the room along with the bunch of young Aerzte and Aerztinnen to visit his other patients. My friends would also have already left for Vienna. ICE (Intercity Express) was scheduled to leave Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Main Railway Station) by 17:00 hr. How could I forget the timings? I read the whole itinerary more than a hundred times in our flight from Chennai to Paris.
It was already 18:00 Uhr (hr) in the digital watch which was lying on the side-table of 307 number room of St. Hedwig Krankenhaus (St. Hedwig Hospital) in Berlin. When we started from Madras Medical College, we were fifteen — eight Aerztinnen (we girls) and seven Aerzte (the boys). But I was left alone as I broke my ankle when I slipped from the escalator at Berlin Hauptbahnhof while rushing to catch ICE to Prague. We students planned an Europe trip during the summer holiday. It was once-in-a-life-time opportunity for a girl like me who belonged to a conservative middle class family. It took me more than a month to pursue Appa (father) for his approval especially when he came to know that there were also seven boys in the team. I could not be more selfish. Already my classmates sacrificed their trip to the beautiful Prague because of my hospitalization. I insisted them to continue their trip as there was no need of any attendant in the hospital. However they decided to stay until I was operated.
It was 20:58. I could hear some footsteps towards my room. Perhaps a junior Arzt or Aerztin of Herr Arzt would be coming for my regular check up. Finally the door opened. My eyes flew open. It was an Indian, an Indian Arzt, Mani, Dr. Violinist. His carry bag was on his shoulder. He laid his violin box on the floor as it was too difficult for him to juggle bag, violin and a colourful bouquet. I was shocked to know that he did not go to “His” Vienna along with the team. Before we started for the trip, in Chennai, I heard that he tried very hard to somehow manage an appointment in the famous Vienna Imperial Academy of Music to show his music talent to a professor.
I could not believe my eyes that he was standing at the door and gawking at me, nervously. Seeing me in the shocking state, he giggled, “I heard at the railway station that it was getting colder in Vienna and I had only one summer jacket.”
I smiled as my eyes brimmed with tears.
Today, exactly after eight years, I could not stopped myself from laughing aloud when Dr. Mani Subramanian (the Indian, the Indian Arzt, Mani, Dr. Violinist) told his wife (that’s me) while taking off his jacket, “It’s too hot even in Europe”.
We were waiting at Berlin Hauptbahnhof for 17:00 Uhr ICE to Vienna. Last week we married in Vadapalani Temple in Chennai.