“Hey want to join us for tea?” Ramesh asked me as soon as the morning rounds got over.
“No thanks” I replied
He looked at me as though he knew I was up to something.
I had enough of all these ‘doubting Thomas’s’ in my college, so I told him
“Dr. Bhatti is doing an Ascitis tap and asked me to stay back”
“Oh, when?” Ramesh looked very surprised
“Then perhaps I will stay back too” He replied
I shrugged my shoulder.
I can’t deny that I was a bit annoyed with Ramesh. Not because he was going to learn more about Ascitis tap, but because he was taking that precious time that I could have shared with Dr. Bhatti alone. There was so much I wanted to talk to Dr. Bhatti.
I walked to the first bed.
Nurse was talking to the patient, so I took the charts to read it again.
For the first time I noticed the patient’s name. Mariamma.
Until that moment she was just a patient that occupied bed 1 and I wondered why I didn’t even bother to learn what was her name.
One bad mark for Nina. I told myself.
Then I noticed her age. 54.
Occupation: Agriculture.
I looked at Mariamma. She definitely looked older than 54, years of hard labour in the sun has certainly done its share of damage. She saw me looking at her and smiled at me.
“How are you Dr Amma?” She asked me in Kannada
I smiled and told her ” I am fine”
She nodded her head happily. I noticed the matching gold nose ring and earrings. Her hair was tied in a bun and looked a lot more tidier than my duck tales!
I felt so embarrassed knowing that I looked so unkempt unlike Mariamma.
I knew it is time I took care of how I looked.
But I never had the time or the interest to groom myself.
One day. I promised myself.
One day I will learn how to wear makeup, wear proper clothing and carry myslef like a dignified lady!
“So what do you know about the case?” Ramesh asked.
I told him whatever I knew.
“TB?” Ramesh looked at me as though I spoke Latin
“Yeah” I replied
“I didn’t know TB can cause Ascitis” He replied
I didn’t reply. What could i say anyway?
Dr. Bhatti came with the staff nurse. He looked at me and at Ramesh
“You are?” Dr. Bhatti was staring at Ramesh
“Ramesh, Sir” Ramesh looked so humble and gentle!
Pretentious! Sensible one spoke
“yeah” I agreed.
“So what is the procedure for Ascitis tap?” Dr. Bhatti asked me.
I answered how to prepare the patient and the actual process.
“What did she miss?” Dr. Bhatti asked Ramesh.
I was really annoyed with the way things were going.
I know I didn’t miss anything and I didn’t want Ramesh to find faults with my answer.
Ramesh repeated everything I just said as though he spend all of last night reading about Ascitis tap procedure.
“good” Dr. Bhatti spoke
Good? How can he say good to Ramesh when all he did was to repeat whatever I answered.
“Both of you can’t see the forest for the trees!” Dr, Bhatti shook his head.
“Where is the consent form?” Dr, Bhatti looked at me
“Sorry sir” I whispered
“Sorry isn’t going to help you miss. You need to be through in your work. Only then you can call yourself a doctor. You have to explain the procedure to the patient and get the consent form signed. Do you understand that?”
“Yes sir” I mumbled.
It was such a simple thing and I wondered why I didn’t think of it first.
“Now explain the procedure to the patient” He asked me
My first Kannada lesson ended even before it actually took off when I converted Patti to Hatti. I knew to speak basic Kannada, but I didn’t know how to explain to a patient medical Lingo in Kannada.
“Sorry Sir, I don’t know how to explain in Kannada”
Dr. Bhatti looked at Ramesh.
“Do you understand Tamil?” Ramesh asked the patient in Tamil
Mariamma nodded her head and I stood there and watched Ramesh explaining to the patient in Tamil, a language I knew much better than Kannada.

Ramesh was stealing the thunder from me and I felt so bitter.

It was supposed to be my moment of glory.
I regretted telling Ramesh about the Ascitis tap. I should have kept my mouth shut. I should have.

I could hear a lot of noise from my inside my room.
Another Card game session?
Shylaja always had Rummy sessions in our room and I was getting tired of it. I just wanted a few hours to read peacefully.
Somehow sharing a room meant the strongest gets to do everything. I thought of telling Shylaja that I don’t mind her playing rummy with the Kannadiga students in the weekend. But not during the weekdays.
But I hated confrontation.
Why? I wondered
Was it because I was weak?
Nah, nah, I wasn’t weak. I learned long ago that it was better to walk away than fight.Every time Appa and Amma fought, I knew for sure that if one person shut up, then the fight would have been long over. But my parents insisted on having the last word and they never realized they both lost.
I was sure until now that I wouldn’t lose anything by walking away. I stood in front of the door and contemplated my choices. I could go in and give Shylaja a piece of my mind or I could go to Sumi’s room and sleep there.
I didn’t want to fight with Shylaja.
I planned to go to Sumi’s room, But I needed to change my clothes.
How pathetic my life was.
I pay the same rent as my room mates, yet I have to go to some other room to sleep.
I opened the door and everyone was looking at me.
“Hi Nina, we were all waiting for you” Shylaja spoke. She smiled at me kindly.
I wondered what is going on.
Shylaja being kind meant only one thing.
My heart started to pound. Did they get another Anonymous letter from George?
But I checked the mail in the afternoon.
Did George send his staff to personally deliver the letters?
I looked at all the faces.
“Come Nina, sit down” Shyjala moved to one side and pointed to the place next to her on her bed. I looked at the bed and at her. I didn’t want to sit on her bed. So I stood where I was.
“So what case did Dr. Bhatti discuss with you?” Shylaja asked
“oh” I took a deep breath. It was a relief to know there were no letters
“Ascitis” I replied
“the lady on bed 1?” Someone asked
“What did Dr. Bhatti say?” Aparna asked
I thought of telling her about following your heart. But that was something so personal. Like something that came from Dr. Bhatti’s heart to my heart.
I smiled thinking about it.
Everyone was still looking at me and I didn’t know how to hide my smile.
A smile that came from my heart because finally there was someone who knew me, who could understand me, who could guide me.
I quickly told them about the lady’s history and the diagnosis.
“What is the prognosis?” Someone asked
“I don’t know” I replied. “Dr Bhatti didn’t say anything about the prognosis”
I wondered why Dr. Bhatti didn’t mention about the prognosis.
Perhaps because it was a simple case of TB. I thought.
“Do you want to play a game of Rummy with us?” Shylaja asked.
Wow, she finally invited me to join her gang!
Earlier I was going to tell her off for playing rummy during the week day and now I was invited to play. Ironies!
“Thanks Shylaja, not today. I am tired and I want to take a shower”
I took my clothes from the cupboard and walked out of the room. Halfway to the bathroom, I remembered that I had forgotten to take the bucket and soap with me. So I stopped walking. The moon was shining and I just stood there leaning on the pillar watching the moon. There was a tiny wisp of cloud very close the moon. I remembered the mouse looking for a groom story

I watched the cloud trying desperately to block the moon. But it couldn’t. The moon was much more brighter than the tiny cloud. Soon the wind pushed the cloud away and the moon was grinning.
Somewhere along I knew I was like the moon.
I may wax, I may wane.
But I will still shine!

I have some errands to do that will keep me busy for one more week. I will update the blog next Monday.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year.
Take care