I had to find out who was Rasputin.
Lover of the Russian queen, so someone Russian. I figured.
I went back to the hostel. Aparna and Shylaja were in the room and I asked them
“Do you know who is Rasputin?”
“Huh?” Both of them were staring at me.
“Do you know who is this Rasputin guy Boney M sang in the Rasputin song?”
“There is a Rasputin guy in that song?” Aparna asked
“yeah, Ra Ra Rasputin, lover of the Russian queen, that one” I was so impatient.
“Oh Yeah, I have never even noticed it, why do you want to know that?” Aparna looked at me.
“No reason. I heard the song today and it occured to me that I didn’t know who is Rasputin” I lied.
There was no point telling them that Dr. Bhatti asked me that question, then they want to know why he asked me that and it will never end.
I went to every single senior’s room and asked if anyone knew who was Rasputin.
At the end, the only consoling fact was that I was not alone. Everyone knew the song and not one person noticed that the song was about some Rasputin who was the lover of the Russian Queen.
Somehow, though I couldn’t find out more about Rasputin, I was pretty relieved that I wasn’t the only ignoramus on planet earth.
I went back to the room.
“Did you find out?” Shylaja asked
“No” I replied.
I went to lay down on my bed. I was annoyed with myself for not reading Russian history.I knew most of the Russian history( Military) during the WW1 and 2. I even knew the name of the Russian commander who was in charge during the winter war( Russia and Finland 1939).
Vyacheslav Molotov!, after whom the Finns named the Molotov cocktail.
Yet I knew nothing much about the Tsar and the Bolsheviks. I had been wanting to read more about the Tsar, but never really got around to.
I should have.
I shouldn’t have wasted my energy reading so many Mills and Boons novels.
Arghh. I hated myself.
There was one person I could call and ask.
But if Roy had already phoned him, then my father would think that I was trying to placate him with my never ending curiosity.
I wondered how I was going to handle when Appa calls and asks who was Arjun.
I analyzed all the pros and cons.
I couldn’t say I was in love with Arjun. Because I really wasn’t.
‘Ha ha ha’ Sensible one started to laugh.
‘Why are you laughing?’ I asked her
‘You should call yourself Confused Nina, it matches with conjuced (stingy) Marwari. Don’t you think?’ She asked
‘I am not confused. I don’t love that Moron’ I answered
‘Ha!’ She snickered
I ignored her. I needed plans to survive my father’s impending questions.
I decided I will tell Appa that, it was Arjun’s birthday and he treated me by buying a burger at Mac’s. Not really convincing, but can pass the scrutiny, unless Appa finds out from Arjun his date of birth. Which wasn’t likely. Appa has never met Arjun.
Phew. I sighed.
I hated the thought of lying to my own father. But what else can I do? I had another 2 1/2 years to finish MBBS. I needed money and knowing my father, he is totally capable of not sending me money if he chose to. I needed to be in his good books.
In the morning, I woke up late. Then I spend the next 15 minutes looking for the 20 Rs, that I had kept in one of the text books for safe keeping. I wanted to keep some money in my hand, should Dr. Bhatti invite me for lunch, I wanted to be able to pay for it.
Eventually I found the money. I kept it in the pocket.
By the time I reached the hospital I checked my watch and realized I didn’t have enough time to go through all the patient charts before the rounds. Dr. Bhatti was already standing near the door and was speaking to the Surgical Prof.
It looked like they might take a while before both of them finished catching up with each other. I took the opportunity to quickly go through the patient’s charts that are kept stacked up in the nurses station. Then I remembered I had not said Hi to Mariamma. I came out of the nurses station and noticed the nurses changing the bed sheet on Bed 1. The side table was empty.
“Where did the patient go?” I asked the nurse
“Shifted to ICU” She mumbled and continued with her work
“Last night, I think. I wasn’t working last night.” She replied.
Ramesh was standing near the main door. Si I ran to him and asked
“Do you know what happened to Mariamma?” I asked him
“Who? The Ascitis patient?
“Yeah, her name is Mariamma” I let him know. I was so annoyed with him. How dare he not know a patient’s name?
I wanted to ask Dr. Bhatti. But he was still standing in the corridor and speaking to the Surgical Prof.
It would be rude to interrupt them and ask about a patient.
I walked straight to the ICU. I had never been there before.
There was a burly looking security guard outside the door.
He looked at me. He must have noticed my coat and opened the door for me without asking anything.
ICU was like a long hall. Beds kept apart by a bigger space than the wards. There were screens showing the ECG. There were doctors everywhere.
Everyone except the patients were busy. I looked at all the patients. I couldn’t find Mariamma.
I walked to the nurses counter. There was a middle aged nurse with the most peaceful face I had seen in a while was sitting there, writing on the charts.
“Excuse me” I spoke
She looked at me
“I am looking for a patient named Mariamma. She was in the medical ward. I was told she was transferred to the ICU last night.”
My hands were shivering. So I kept my hands in the pocket.
She looked at me and I knew the answer.
“When?” I asked her. My voice was quivering
I couldn’t breath.
All she ever wanted was to attend her son’s wedding.
I wanted to cry.
But doctors can’t cry.
“Are you OK ?” I heard the nurse ask.
I didn’t bother to reply. I just walked. I didn’t wait for the security guard to open the grill door completely. I squeezed myself out. My steth got caught on the latch. I yanked it free and walked.
I wanted to talk to Dr. Bhatti. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind for giving false hopes to Mariamma. How dare he.
I went and sat down on the bench outside his OPD( in the midst of all the patients who were waiting for Dr. Bhatti)
I knew everyone was looking at me. I couldn’t care less.
I closed my eyes, leaned my head against the dirty walls.
All I could see was Mariamma’s face and how excited she was to know that she was going to be discharged. Now in the midst of wedding preparation, her family have to arrange her funeral. I wondered if the society is going to punish the girl who was to marry Mariamma’s son by blaming her for her Mother In law’s untimely death?
People were talking, children were crying, guards were yelling to control the OPd crowd. I knew I was alive. I knew I was sitting in the OPD. But I was far away. It was as though a part of me has just floated up leaving my body behind. And I didn’t care.
Eventually I heard Dr. Bhatti’s voice. I opened my eyes. He was with all the junior doctors.
“Sir” I called and got up from the bench.
He turned to look at me, so did all the other doctors. Not very often you will see a medical student sitting among the patients.
“Yes” Dr. Bhatti looked at me.
“Can I have a minute please?”
He looked at me and I knew he was trying to figure out what was going on.
“Sure, come” He walked towards his consultation room and I followed.
I waited for him to sit down.
He sat down and looked at me
“You knew she was going to die, Didn’t you?”
Dr. Bhatti looked at me for a very long time.
Don’t even dream of lying. I thought of telling him
“It was a possibility” he finally answered
“Yet you still gave her hope. You told her she will be discharged this week end. You told her that”
“Sit down” Dr. Bhatti pointed to the chair
“NO” I refused.
I didn’t care if he was going to be angry with me for disobeying. I didn’t give a damn. I was going to quit. I have had enough of doing medicine. I was going to go to BCM college, study home science and get married(to a rich guy who wants a trophy wife).
Dr Bhatti leaned across the table and spoke gently
“One day you will learn that death and life are part of a doctor’s life. But that doesn’t mean that you can take the hope from a patient, because you have no right to do that. You don’t decide who get to live or die. But you can always offer hope, because medicine is all about hope. You are always hoping that something like the technology or religious miracle or a new drug will change the factors that are against your patient’s chance of survival. You have to hope for them. And you give them hope”
I shook my head and disagreed.
I felt exhausted.
I walked out of the room. Took off my coat. Checked my pocket for money, took the bus and went back home.