I got the med cert, I went through all the case files of new patients and I still had time. May be I will examine the patients. I wanted to be thorough in my patient examination skills and I knew practice makes perfect.
I looked around the ward.
Most of the patients were laying down on the bed and were busy sleeping. Normally they would be talking to each other and the nurses will be busy scolding them and trying to get them to rest. But today the entire medical ward was quiet. Only the new admissions were awake and they were staring at me.
I wanted to think that everyone was well behaved because I was around.
You know the feeling.. The power professors have when they enter the class. How their mere presence is enough to spontaneously create pin drop silence.
I almost smiled thinking how ridiculous I was sounding. Because I knew exactly why the patients were pretending to be asleep. They knew I am a junior medical student ( lowest in the hierarchy)and they knew if they were sleeping ( even pretending to sleep), I can’t wake them up and examine them. I didn’t have the power to wake them up and examine them.
Ball was in their court.
Soon, I promised myself. Soon I will complete MBBS and then we will see who has the power. I told myself.
‘You are so mean’ Sensible one spoke
‘What do you mean? Can’t you see what they are doing to me. Every single one of them is pretending to sleep’
‘You would have done the same thing if you were in their place’ She spoke
‘No, I wouldn’t’
‘Really? You would have just lay down on the bed and let all the students examine you over and over”
I never really thought about it. My group alone has 15 students and most of the times all 15 of us would examine the patient, because you may not get the same case again and everyone of us wanted to have a chance.
Would I have let 15 medical students to check for Babinsky’s reflex on my feet?
I took off my coat and walked out of the ward thinking What should I do?
Should I go back and see Princy. I couldn’t wait to throw the med cert on his table and watch his reaction. But I needed to fill all the details in the certificate and I had to be careful not to make any mistake. I also had to change my handwriting, just in case Princy got suspicious!
I wanted to sit somewhere and fill out the med cert peacefully. I didn’t want to go back to the campus and write all the details in the med cert. What if someone sees me doing it and inform the Princy?
I looked around to find a place to sit.
Water water everywhere, not a drop to drink, sang the ancient mariner.*
There was space everywhere in the hospital, but there was no place for me to sit. I couldn’t sit on the corridor floor, I couldn’t sit outside on the steps, I didn’t want to go back to the ward and be the haddi on the Kebab considering the fact that the ‘lovers’ are spending some quiet times together before the evening madness starts.
I knew the hospital canteen would be closed, but at least I can sit there.
Though I was only a med student, I still had some power! I could sit in the canteen and the operator couldn’t there fore wouldn’t kick me out.
I opened the grill and walked to the Doctor’s dining room. Someone was banging the pots and pans in the kitchen and making so much noise. I remembered the kitchen orchestra I participated for one of the Sunday school camp. We had used pots and pans and created music! Those were the fun days, I sighed.
Only a curtain separated the doctor’s dining room from the rest of the canteen. Just as I pulled the curtain I heard people talking. Then there was pin drop silence and all eyes were on me. I wanted the earth to open up and swallow me.
All the senior faculty members were in the canteen. All the HOD, asst Prof from all the departments, all of them who has the power to make me do 5 years MBBS in 15 years.
I lifted my toes, squeezed my fingers to see if I was dreaming.
“Hello Nina, what are you doing here?” Dr. Bhatti asked
“I came to see the new admissions sir” I knew he will be wondering what am I doing in the canteen. “I finished early, so I thought I will sit here and study”
I felt guilty for lying to him. The folder in my hand contained few letters. My lab coat pocket had a Mills and boon book and I was planning to forge a med cert.
“Come join us” he spoke
“No sir. thank you sir” I spoke and I tried to walk backwards. I don’t really know why I was trying to walk backwards.
“Come on, Don’t be shy.” Then he turned and spoke to Dr.N. S.( Surgery H.O.D) “She is a brilliant student, very rarely have I come across a brilliant student like her.
“Come, have a seat” OBG Madam moved to the side and asked me to come and sit with her.
“Which year are you in?”
“2” I spoke
“Where are you from?” She asked and the cross examination begun.
“Babu” Dr. Bhatti called
“Yes sir” I heard the canteen operator answering.
“What do you want, coffee or tea?” Dr. Bhatti asked me
“Tea Sir” I replied hesitantly.
“One tea for her. Anyone else want anything?” Dr. Bhatti asked.
“I have to go. I have a patient in labour” OBG madam spoke. “Nice meeting you Nina” She got up and tapped my shoulder and smiled. I got up to let her leave.
“I am also going, That problematic Minister’s family memeber is admitted for Varicose. He only wants the HOD to examine his family member!” Dr. N. S spoke.
By the time the operator got me my tea, most of the staff had gone.
By the time I finished half of my tea only Dr. Bhatti and I were left.
“Feeling better?” He asked
I wasn’t sure what he meant. How did he know I had migraine?
I nodded my head though I had no idea what the question meant.
“You are very impulsive” Dr. Bhatti spoke.
He was smiling.
If anyone told me that I am impulsive I would have been ticked off. No, I wouldn’t have simply been ticked off, I would have argued and proved that I wasn’t impulsive. I was pretty sure I wasn’t impulsive.
But the way Dr. Bhatti said it, He didn’t accuse me neither was he angry with me, he just simply stated a fact.
I smiled because there was no way I could get angry with Dr. Bhatti. And somewhere deep in my heart I knew he was right.
*I read many years ago that one of Nehru’s Malayalee staff had translated water water everywhere.. brinlliantly and on the spot during one of Nehru’s speach in Kerala. It went something like this vellam velllam palathulli vellam.. Was it KPS Menon? Does anyone remember the rest of the translation