I dreaded attending forensic medicine classes mostly because I was already tagged. Once you are thrown out of the class, chances of repeated episodes of similar nature is extremely high. May be I shouldn’t sit in the front row. Before the lecturer entered the class, I ran all the way to the back of the gallery and sat down next to Shivakumar and couple of Tamilian students
“Hey Nina, why are you sitting here?” Shivakumar asked me
“Shhh!” I kept my fingers on my lips and threatened him not to talk.
I watched Dr.Jagadish aka Mr.Filthy walking in to the class. He took the attendance first and I was just so relieved. Even if he throws me out now, I would at least have the attendance!
“So class, let me test your knowledge” He started to look around the gallery and I hoped he won’t see me. I was just so relieved when he started looking at Aparna.
“What is your name?” He asked her
She got up and answered” Aparna Sir”
“Let us see how smart you are, shall we” Aparna looked pretty confident and I knew she probably would have read the whole text book. That reminded me that I haven’t even bought a forensic text book yet. I had used the money to renew my eloor lending library membership!
“What is the other name of mammary glands?” There was absolute silence in the class. I tried to think of the answer and I couldn’t remember. Anatomy wasn’t my favourite anyway.
“What is the other name?” I whispered and asked Shivakumar. If anyone knew the name, it would be Shivakumar, He was our walking Grey’s anatomy.
“I don’t know Nina” He whispered back.
“Madam I asked you a question” He was staring at Aparna and she looked terrified. This was the first time she didn’t know the answer.
“Do you know the answer?” He asked again
“No sir” She murmured
“People like you should be ashamed to do medicine. You are a disgrace to the medical profession. Get out of my class” He started to yell.
Aparna stood there still, may be she was too afraid to leave, may be she was never thrown out of the class. I wanted to run down the steps and grab her hand and leave the class room before further damage.
“Shivakumar, tell her to leave before he gets more mad at her” I tried nudging him
Throwing Nina Thomas out of the class was something everyone was used to, but not Aparna. She never did anything wrong. She never skipped any classes, handed all her assignments on time.
I watched Shylaja telling Aparna to leave and her replying
“But I didn’t do anything wrong” She sounded defiant
I got so mad at her because the last time I was thrown out, I also didn’t do anything wrong! How could she even think that I did something wrong to be thrown out?
“How many of you want to pass the forensic internals? Put up your hand” He yelled
Entire class put up the hand.
“Good. If she doesn’t leave in the next 5 seconds, I will make sure none of you will pass” He sounded so calm
“Aparna, get out, don;t get us in to trouble” Everyone started to talk to her and for the first time there was total unanimity in the class. Aparna started to cry and she took her books and walked out.
It was true that Aparna was mean to me so many times, but I knew how much it hurts when everyone turns against you and you know you haven’t done anything wrong. I have been there feeling the same betrayal and I knew she would feel the same
“Who else knows the answer?” He started to walk across the lecture podium like a mad dog.
No one spoke.
“You all passed first MBBS?” He asked
“Yes sir” everyone spoke
“Have you not heard of the term called Breast?”
How could I not think of it? I wasn’t sure. I felt so stupid not to have known such a simple answer.
After the class was over, as I walked out Arjun called me
“hey Nina, wait up”
“What?” I asked him
“Want to join me? I am going to the canteen?”
I sat down at my usual table. Arjun ordered tea for both of us and came and sat down in front of me. He had a packet of cigarette with him
“You smoke?” I asked him
“Yeah, you didn’t know?”
“No, when did you start?”
“Few months ago”
I watched him lighting the cigarette and taking a puff. I thought of telling him the definition of cigarette, ie fool at one end and fire at the other end. But I knew Arjun wouldn’t like to think that he is fool!
“Tell me about your family” He asked
“Nothing much, my father works for her majesty, mom works for the telephones and my oldest sister completed her engineering and I have two younger sisters”
I tried to think what standard Liza is in and I realized she would have written her 10th standard exam this year.
Damn it I thought. I haven’t even send a good luck card to Liza. How could I forget? It is true that my life did turn upside down after the anonymous letter fiasco, buy what wrong did my sister do? How could I forget her? I hated myself for not thinking about my sisters.
“Arjun, Can I ask for a favour?”
“I need your help on this Sunday”
“I need to go to church”
“You want me to take you to church?”
“There are a few”
“You go to so many churches?”
“Yes” I nodded my head
“Really” I nodded my head again, hoping he won’t ask me anymore questions.
“That reminds me, Few of us going to Tirupati for the may holidays, want to come?”
“No, by bike, I was told that the highway (NH4) is one of the best highways in India. I want to check it out”
“You are coming?”
“You won’t have any problems because you are a Christian?”
“Good, Oh I forgot, you like Dhaba food?”
“What is Dhaba food?”
“You Don’t know Dhabas? the highway food shops?” He looked at me surprised
“No” I shook my head
“God, you have never been to a Dhaba?”
“No” I had no idea what he was talking about.
“Oh Nina” I thought of telling him, don’t Oh Nina me.
“Princy” We heard someone shouting. Arjun got up quickly and threw the cigarette out. He looked pretty hilarious trying to flap his hand and remove the smoke/smell from his mouth
“Pan, Bhaiyya pan” he screamed and ran towards the counter to get Supari from the canteen operator., while the operator was busy hiding the cigarettes under the counter.
“Arjun I will talk to you later, Thanks for the Tea” I ran out. I didn’t want the Princy to tell George about Arjun.
Aparna was laying down on the bed, when I entered. Her face looked swollen. She must have been crying
“Aparna, can I talk to you?” I asked
She looked at me.
“I know you didn’t do anything wrong. Some people are like that, they just want to make you suffer, but they win, if you let their actions affect you”
“Ok” She mumbled
I knew she didn’t appreciate my concerns, but I had to do what I had to do.
It must have been around 10.45pm, I was reading a very nice mills and boon novel I borrowed from Sumi when I heard someone knocking my door softly. I looked at Aparna, she was already asleep. Shylaja wasn’t in the room. I got up and opened the door to see Gangamma standing there
“What is it Gangamma?” I asked her
“Come” Gangamma kept her hand on her lips and told me to be quiet
“What?” I asked her again. She held my hands and walked towards the hostel main door. The grill was locked and no one was allowed to leave the hostel after 10 pm, so I wasn’t sure where Gangamma was taking me.
“What is it Gangamma? Where are you taking me?” I asked again
“Shh” She hushed me
“Wait here” She ordered and I watched her walking towards the table and taking some package and walking back.
“Arjun send this” She handed the parcel to me
“Huh? How? What?
“Arjun bought food for you and send it through the security and he passed it to me”
“He is a nice guy ma”
“Sit here and eat ma, so no one will know” she suggested and went to switch off the light in the hall way.
I opened the parcel, there were rotis, dhal and potato subji. I ate half and gave the other half to Gangamma( mostly because I already ate my dinner at the mess!)