By Tungshang Ningreichon
During one of the Christmas games we play in the village I fell down like an eagle that missed a swoop. The game as silly as its name, “eloping” is mostly for the youth where boys and girls form into pairs and we race towards the goal post that stands like captain Barbossa’s legs.
My game partner obviously was faster and stronger. I could not keep up with his speed so I toppled like a witch with stone tied around her legs. My chest hit hard against the ground and for once I thought my heart that even bad love and romance could not break had broken into pieces this time. For days I was in pain and became almost immobile. I tried a few home treatments including heat fomentations but the pain continued so I went to Imphal to see a doctor.
The impatient person that I am, I suspect the fall aggravated this unique quality we all possess, so to save time, I decided to go to a private hospital hoping that it would be less crowded but I was wrong. The hospital was packed! It seems to say that people were impatient like me or more possibly they were either very rich or prefer to spend a little more instead of going to a government hospital. The consultation fee was rupees 200 then compared to rupees 5 in the nearby government hospital. The fee must be higher now with the rising temperature and temper of people around us.
As we stood in the queue, some people were breaking the un-spelled discipline shoving papers and money from the corner, and our receptionist was attending to them. Later, he got up, left his seat, got himself a cup of tea and was behaving typically like an SBI staff we often encounter during our trips to the bank. My time bomb was ticking. It had to explode as the fuse is shorter by default than the rest. I went and confronted the receptionist. He was not to be outdone. He shouted back at me. But like the wave in an ebb, the rest joined in and we raised the same voice, harmoniously! The receptionist had to get back to the job while this ‘villain of the moment’ got the ticket and went in to see the doctor.
The doctor after examination said I should continue the heat fomentation as the chest is still swollen. I was also given some medications and was asked to report back after two days which was unusual, without X-ray, scan or other reports. I said I live in the village so it would be difficult to return unless very necessary. As I stood up to leave the doctor said ‘wait’ like he was to scribble more illegible names of medicines (in medical studies handwriting and cursive writing is not a subject you see).Instead, he ordered coffee, asked me what I do, where I live as I remember that there were five or more patients waiting after my turn. He gave me his contact details like I would badly need his emergency advice. I was amused and so was my cousin who was with me. We both enjoyed the coffee anyway since we were hungry. We left confused!
After a Christmas well spent it was time for me to go back to my ghetto. On the flight I was seated with a father and his daughter who must have been about my age or perhaps younger as her skin was softer, fairer and without the freckles that decorate my face. We struck a few pleasantries and the she said “I get scared when I fly so allow me to hold you when I get sick”. I was not prepared for what came next. She cautioned me but her warning was a little too mild. Every time the plane rocked she would hold me so tight, pinch my hand and squeeze me like I owe her some money! She had major flying phobia and flying over Delhi during winter you know can be a horrible experience with the thick fog and smog. Our journey was getting obnoxious. I was getting sick too. The role reversal was getting unpleasant. I drank some water and few minutes later I was strong again to be her catharsis bag.
The journey came to an end. The father handed me his card. He turned out to be one well known pediatrician whose name I have heard often. He was attending a conference in Delhi so there was a car waiting for them and they offered to drop me. I declined. They insisted. The direction we were heading towards was the same so I sat in the car thanking my stars for the few hundred I saved from the prepaid taxi to reach my hostel, had I taken one. Before I got off the father said that I must come and visit them the next time I am home. That never happened.
That was more than 5 years ago or so. Today I recall these two episodes in my life and I laughed like I was on a few drags of ganja and the effect dawning on me. Two men. Same profession. Different memory.
To the doctor on the flight I wish I had gone and met them when I came home few months later because a pediatrician should be your second best friend when you become a mother, a parent.
To the other doctor I went to, I say ‘thank God it was just the chest and not a more private anatomy’!
(Tungshang Ningreichon is a happy mother from Langdang, Ukhrul and writes occasionally for the love of stories, histories and memories.)