The feeling petrified me. Yet another session with doctor as I fell ill again. It was like a common occurrence for me those days; me falling ill. I had to travel with mom and dad standing in front of scooter front of dad looking at the glowing speedometer and wondering what the green illuminating economy zone signified.
It was a proud feeling when the scooter was kicked to start and me getting the chance to turn up the accelerator and see the burnt fuel bellowing out from the exhaust creating a smoke filled cloud temporarily.
Muscling around the crowd, sometimes stalling in the traffic, sometimes continuous honking of horns; finally it was relief when I reached the doctor’s clinic. It so happed that the doctor, Doctor Anil Da; and my dad were close acquaintances. The clinic was not far away from the station, so there was always hustle and bustle around that area. Doctors and hospitals always terrified me, especially injections and the smell inside of hospitals.
Well I was ill again, as I entered the clinic holding mom’s hand. The green drapes that curtained the doctor from the sitting patients blew slightly in the air due to the fan. I saw a man in middle age getting his blood pressure checked with the machine and Anil Da holding the green bellow which pumped air I guessed.
That machine always disturbed me
When it was my turn, I was scared and hid behind mom’s saree. But dad took me in his arms and made me sit on the stool near Anil da. It was our way of interacting. Whenever I greeted “Namaste chachaji”, he would ask me for a ball.
I always used to carry one with me whenever I went to see him
As per the tradition that was established between us, I slowly tried to take out the ball, which was creating the bulge in my pocket. Yeah…it was difficult to pull it out. I stood from my seat, and tried pushing the ball from the end of the pocket area. It was a plastic ball, with red and yellow stripes made of hard plastic.
He smiled and so did my parents. I made myself seated on the seat again. Soon I was pointing towards the blood pressure monitoring machine as I was scared of it. I knew Anil Da understood me and with a smile on his face, he took it and kept it inside his drawer. He was more of a friend than a traditional doctor. Always dressed up smartly and wearing specs with stethoscope dangling around his neck , it seemed funny to me how he wore them. His specs were the one with small lens, so that he could look over them for seeing far. While writing prescriptions, he would look through them. The slight dark complexion, smile on face, those long front teeth and those specs gave him a kind of friendly look of which I wasn’t scared.
Whenever I fell ill, I always asked mom and dad for Anil Da.
So we would chatter for a few moments…about the ball, how I was doing in school and anything unrelated to my illness. Soon dad would be explaining my condition, and I would fall silent. It was something serious topic now; involving mom, dad and Anil Da. He would prescribe me some meds, ask my condition, about any uneasiness or fever whatever it was affecting me. The ball would still be there sitting on the table, being witness to all the discussions and talks. When it was time to leave, there was a smile again on his face, he would ask me to collect the ball, pat on my back and ask me to be careful and cautious. Now again to put the ball back was a tedious affair. The pocket flap had to be opened up wide enough to push the ball inside, and it would make me uncomfortable for a few minutes. I would thank Anil Da and so would my parents and then wave him goodbye. Then I would hop back on the scooter, this time silently without asking to rev up the accelerator.
It was a few years back, when I was back home in holidays. Talking to mom and dad to while away the time, it came out of nowhere that Anil Da was no more. It was some medical complications that took him away from us. It was hard news to digest. Unknowingly there was some kind of relation between us which I had not thought about seriously until now. I remembered the ball, his stethoscope always around his neck, the pressure monitoring machine which distracted me always, the green drapes that separated him from the herd of patients. He was a kind and generous person, not in the profession for money but for social service. Had he been in it for the sake of money, I wouldn’t have been able to form that kind of relationship with him. It was later on that I had realized why he always asked for the ball.
He just wanted to see that I had ample playing time
. There was one time when I didn’t bring the ball to him. When we were leaving, he presented me a ball. I was skeptical to accept it and looked into my parents eyes for answers. By the time I would have got my answer, Anil Da held out my hand and placed the ball in my palms and wrapped my fingers around it.
Such was Anil da, a happy soul always, cared for people and it return earned their respect from the bottom of the people’s heart. This short piece is a dedication to the best doctor Bhagalpur has ever had.