I learnt that a visit to a hospital for no particular reason gives one a fresh perspective in life. Walking through the outpatient department dispels all my complexes. I am immediately grateful for my healthy body, if not for the little wealth.
Last week, while I was on a leisurely stroll around a leading civic hospital, I happened upon a resident optician’s cabin. He was yet to come and there was a long line of people waiting for him outside. I was quite tired, so I decided to take a seat there.
A short while later I spotted the doctor coming in, followed by a small mob. He paused for a second and looked at the line of waiting patients, perhaps to get a general idea of what his day was going to be like, and then proceeded to his chamber. Not long after, a nurse came out from his chamber and called the first patient. From inside his cabin came the doctor’s thundering voice: “Do you drink?” he asked the patient. The patient, in his late 40s, shook his head and said, “No.”The doctor lectured him on the vices of alcoholism, warned him that he wouldn’t be treated if he didn’t cut down his alcohol in the next three months and sent him away.
The next patient was a 9-year-old boy accompanied by his mother. They seemed to have come from the suburbs. The doctor screened the boy’s eyes through his machine, then said to his mother loudly, “Are you mad?” The lady was slightly taken aback. She opened her mouth to say, “Kya?” and spray of tobacco stained saliva spread across the room. The doctor said, “Your boy is 65 per cent blind. Was he blind at the time of his birth?” Before the lady could say anything else, the doctor held a hanky over half his face. She said, “Pata nahi.” “Pata nahi?” asked the bewildered the doctor, “Khana kati ho kya? Bachha andha hua aur pata nahi?”He then instructed the duo to wait a while so he could run some thorough tests on the boy.
Passively taking in all the happenings in the waiting room, I eventually fell asleep and escaped to dreamland. I was woken by a nurse who was tapping my hand and asking me to come inside. I looked around, a little disoriented. I was the only one left. I tried to explain that I wasn’t there to check my eyes, but before I could, the doctor turned his attention towards us and asked, “What’s happening there?” In order to avoid having to explain myself, I said, “I’ve lost my case paper. I’ll get one and come back.” But the doctor would have none of it. “Treatment first,” he said, “Paper work can follow.”
So I handed him my glasses, put my chin on his machine and looked through it. He examined my eyes for a few moments, and yelled at me over the machine, “Do you watch late night movies? It will spoil your eyes. Don’t come to me for an operation later.”
I figured it’s time I confessed. So I confessed, snatched my glasses back and ran away before the stunned doctor and nurse could say anything.