I wanted to talk to Mariamma. But what do I tell her? How do I establish the same rapport she had with Dr. Bhatti?
Until now I was pretty sure, if I knew my theory I will be a good doctor. But now I was no longer sure. I knew every single thing about Ascitis and paracentesis( Ascitis tap), What I didn’t know was how to handle a patient.
I looked at Mariamma. she was staring at the ceiling. I pictured myself in her position. Alone in a strange room with a junior doctor who couldn’t even speak Kannada. Don’t forget the needle in her belly.
No wonder she is staring at the ceiling! I told myself. I too would have done the same had I been in her place.
“How many children do you have Mariamma?” I asked her in Tamil
“5” Then she looked at me and said “You speak Tamil Dr. Ma?” She was staring at me
“Of course”
“Where did you learn Dr. Ma? I thought you are from Kerala” Mariamma spoke Rolling the word Kerala in a typical Kannadiga style.
That was a long story and I knew Mariamma wouldn’t understand. So I told her the twisted truth
“I have friends who speak Tamil and I learned from them”
” Do you watch Tamil movies Dr. Ma?”
“Of course. I even watch Telugu movies” I told her
“You speak Telugu also?”
“No, Ma. I like watching movies”
I remembered watching Geethanjali in a bed bug infested theater.
It felt like another life time.
I missed him.
Tears started to well up my eyes. I looked away, So Mariamma won’t see me crying.
Some where at the back of my head Tracy Huang was singing Crying in the rain.
I knew I f *#@#$ up big time, that I deserve this.
But hope was eternal. No?
‘No’ Sensible one spoke
‘Shut up’ I hissed.
‘You deserve to be miserable. You broke his heart’ She spoke
I thought of asking what about my heart? Does she not see that it too was broken?
“How many brothers and sisters you have Doctor Ma?”
“3 Sisters. No brothers”
It felt weird not having a brother. I never knew how it was to have a brother.
An older brother.
The brother who could have stood up to Appa and gave him a piece of his mind. The brother who could have told Chechy off. The brother who would have held my family together.
“Are they all Doctors?”
“No Ma. I am the only one.” I replied
I was like he ugly duckling among the beautiful swans. I was so different from my sisters. I had nothing in common with them. It was as though I really had a different set of parents. I remembered all those times Amma told Chechy that I was bought from the market in lieu of 5 kilo thavidu. (Every time Chechy compared how fairer I was compared to herself, Amma had consoled her by saying that I was bought from the market)
Did they really buy me from the market? I wondered
Nah. Don’t be silly. I told myself. I still had the same birthmark Appa has on his hands.
May be my sisters were bought from the market! I am the real McCoy. smiled thinking about it.
I looked at the bottle and noticed that not much of fluid was draining.
Should I stop the procedure? I wasn’t sure and I really didn’t want to harm Mariamma.
“I will be back in a minute Ma” I told Mariamma and walked out quickly.
I walked to the nurses station. The head nurse was writing something in a book while talking on the phone. I stood right in front of her across the counter.
I knew she could see me.
She pretended she didn’t see me.
She continued to talk on the phone.
“edi aa kadayil vinayaka discount undayirrunnu.. Nee arinjilley? Njan 3 saree vangichu. Oru plain neelaa, oru pachayum pinkum printed saree, oru oranjum neelayum colour printed. Nee evidunna a peacock blue saree vangichaey? Kazhinjazhcha palliyil uduthathu?”
I had enough of listening to shopping expedition.
“Excuse me” I spoke
The nurse looked at me.
Edi, oru minuttey” She covered the mouth piece with her right hand and was staring at me.
“What do you want?” She asked me
“I want help with the patient in the Day treatment room”
“You go, I will come” She took her hand off the mouth piece and continued to talk on the phone.
I walked back to the day treatment room. Mariamma looked at me as soon as I entered the room.
I could see that she looked tired.
I sat down on the stool and waited.
There were hardly any fluid coming down the tube. I knew the procedure was complete. After waiting what felt like eternity, I walked back to the nurses counter.
Only a nursing student was there.
“Where is the head nurse?” I asked her
“She has gone to the supply room”
“Where is the supply room?”
“Near the hostel”
oh perfect. it is in the other end of the hospital.
I should have never trusted that stupid woman.
“Do you know anything about Ascitis tap?” I asked
“No. Dr” She shook her head.
Idiot. how could she know anything about Ascitis tap? She is only a nursing student. I scolded myself.
I walked to the day treatment room.
My heart was pounding.
My hands were shaking.
I did a mental check of the procedure.
“Mariamma, i am going to take the needle out” I wanted to sound confident. But my voice quivered.
Mariamma looked at me.
I smiled. Hoping that my smile will show her that I was confident.
I clamped the tube, took the needle out and bandaged the area.
I took a deep breath and smiled.
I did it!

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