Saturday, December 4, 2010

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Infant Jesus Child Care Hospital was filled with the cries of the infants. The visitors stayed annoyed by the kids who merrily played hide-and-go-seek in the hospital. Dr. Shanthakumari was examining the tiny and sponge-like tummy of a toddler. She was in her early sixties and was slightly obese. The kids definitely would not like her, just for her choice of lipstick colours and hoarse voice. However, she was considered as an efficient and a successful paediatrician. Dr. Shanthakumari was investigating the toddler’s parents to learn the previous day’s intake of the toddler and the phone rang. She was chagrined and murmured that she wouldn’t like to answer phone calls at work. But the annoyance disappeared and her body language suggested that it was a call that she was awaiting. The telephone operator informed that she would put the representative from Wedding Locks Matrimonial through. The doctor acceded and greeted the representative with a cheerful ‘Hello’. The representative, Guna was not impressed. “Doctor, Any update on the last profile that I shared with you?” asked the representative. The doctor employed a lot of fillers and that disrupted the flow of speech. That made Guna to understand that doctor would come up with alibis as before. “Guna, should I tell you? My daughter is a doctor. So, she prefers to marry a doctor. Any doctor’s profile in the database now?” the doctor questioned in a sheepish tone. Guna didn’t want to allow the conversation to go further. “Doctor, if I recall correctly, I have shared 4 profiles with you in the last 2 months. Out of which, 3 were doctors. You told that your daughter didn’t want to marry somebody in her profession. And now, it seems that your daughter has changed her mind. That’s alright! I would scan our database again and call you if we find a match” told Guna in a reluctant manner and ended the conversation. The doctor understood that Guna wouldn’t call back and eventually reminded of the existence of the horror-stricken toddler whom she was examining. She thoroughly examined the kid and prescribed mint-flavoured syrup for the young patient to recover from dyspepsia. The parents left the room with a bright smile on their faces.

The private clinic of Dr. Maya was empty and silent. Her next appointment was at 6’o clock in the evening. Maya was a young psychiatrist and was considered trustworthy and intelligent. The doctors’ community envied her and couldn’t digest the patients’ feedback about her. The patients ostensibly considered her as their Goddess. She looked pensive and turned the pages of a medical magazine without paying attention. The telephone rang and the operator transferred the call from Dr. Shanthakumari, the mother of Maya. Maya despised using mobile phones at work and dedicated her work time only for her patients. Dr. Shanthakumari ignored Maya’s feeble ‘hello’ and jumped into the conversation directly. “Maya, I have had enough. I am 61 years old now and want to be showered with the affection of my grand children. We have discussed about this many times and I haven’t got a confident response from you. Please don’t procrastinate anymore. I am definitely impressed with the last profile that Guna shared with me. You are already 29 kiddo. As a doctor, you know that it’s difficult to give birth after 30. You understand the medical complications. Don’t you?” questioned, the mediocre mother. Maya clicked her tongue and couldn’t quell the anger. “Amma, you want grandchildren? That problem of yours can be eliminated effortlessly. I have been pondering about adopting a child for quite some time now. As a matter of fact, I am in the process of inquiring about the legal procedures too. Will let you know once I am through. We’ll discuss about the other woes of yours when we meet tonight. Tata!” she hung up without allowing her mother to respond. Her mother’s phone call left her in a sombre mood.

Maya’s personal assistant announced the arrival of the patient at 6’o clock that evening and submitted the preliminary form that the patient’s parents filled. Maya sauntered in her room as she was reading the form. The patient was Varuna, an 8 year old kid who was molested multiple times by her auto driver. The kid wasn’t able to understand the behaviour of the auto driver and had unknowingly cooperated to the monstrous activities of the paedophile. The scullery maid who was employed at the kid’s house caught the auto driver red-handed and informed the kid’s parents. Eventually, the parents established the behavioural changes in the kid and identified an unknown fear that had been haunting the kid from being normal. Varuna had even developed an aversion to men. Maya analysed the situation thoroughly, understood the predicament of the kid and instructed the assistant to send the family in.

Varuna’s mother, who looked like a middle-aged woman, legged into the room with a sort of reluctance. Varuna followed her mother and looked possessed. Maya didn’t fail to notice the bulbous eyes of Varuna. The mother and the daughter settled comfortably in the davenport. The assistant ushered Varuna’s father in. He introduced himself as Tarun and shook hands with her. Maya was jarred when she had a close view of the man’s face. She was numb and couldn’t utter a word. The assistant took Varuna to the play area and the parents explained the story to Maya one more time. Maya heard nothing, but managed to relieve herself from the state of shock. Tarun realised that Maya looked slightly perturbed and hence decided to explain things again. “Varuna is our only child. Though both of us work, we have never failed to pay attention to our child. My wife’s mother is with us and we requested her to stay with us only to take care of Varuna. We never thought that Varuna would become a victim of such a cruel thing. After we identified the brutal behaviour of the auto driver, we didn’t allow Varuna to go to school. She stayed at home for a week and my wife was with her. After a week, I dropped Varuna in the school and I got a call from the school to take her back to home as she had complained of fever and giddiness. We visited a general physician who confirmed that there was nothing wrong with her physically, but she was deeply hurt and hysteric because of the incident. The GP also suggested taking Varuna to you for counselling. My heart bleeds, Doctor! We couldn’t see our princess being mentally ill.” Tarun would have definitely cried if only he was not reminded of the fact that he was a man. Maya imagined Tarun as an injured animal crying for relief. Maya scrutinised the situation and prepared a scheme to aid the young girl to recover.

It was a busy morning at Tarun’s apartment and the entire family was rushing to commence the day. Varuna repacked her school bag, kissed her grandmother, waved hands to her mom and dad and boarded the school bus. The family looked gay and Tarun looked relieved. He reached work and dialled to have a word with Maya. The assistant transferred the call to Maya and as always she opened the call in an impassive tone. Tarun, “Doctor, I am just conscious that the 3 month course that you suggested for Varuna ends today. Just thought that I could let you know that Varuna is participating in a play this evening and hence we will not be able to attend the last session in your clinic. Are you ok to move the appointment to Saturday?” said in an energetic tone. Maya replied, “that’s fine”. Tarun understood that there was no life in Maya’s voice, but that was not new to Maya’s acquaintances. “Doctor, I am not sure how I would prove my gratitude. You were our solace when our family was in a tight spot. Thank you so much for making my daughter a princess again.” told Tarun in a cheerful tone. “That’s ok” was Maya’s reply.

The phone rang again and it was her mother at the other end. She initiated the conversation querulously, “Maya, I am going to meet Guna. Can I pick you up en route to his office? I am asking you for the last time. Please don’t refuse”. Maya was not annoyed this time, but she told curtly, “Amma, I am at work and there is no room to reconcile any personal conflicts now. Please leave me at peace. I have told you zillion times. I will not marry in this lifetime and you don’t waste your time matching horoscopes. Please amma! Bye!” and she terminated the conversation.

Maya sank in her chair and started to think about the dark past that made her what she was then. She was reminded of a dreadful incident that refused to escape her memory.

It was her 8th birthday that day and she was dressed in a purple coloured frock. She visited every house in the building to share sweets with her neighbours. The innocent kid punched the calling bell switch of the Apartment# 13 in the first floor. It was occupied by 3 bachelors and they were Vishwa, Sethu and Tarun. Tarun had his day off and was indulged in watching porn movies, when Maya knocked the door. Tarun opened the door and found an angel-like kid standing at the threshold. Maya boasted that she wanted to share some sweets. Tarun grabbed some sweets and ushered Maya in. She stepped in reluctantly and the left the door ajar. Tarun tugged the kid in and slammed the door. Maya was horrified and couldn’t scream owing to shock. The devil in Tarun molested the flower-like kid savagely. Maya left his apartment after a brief period of time and decided not to divulge the truth. But the pain in her intensified and grew along with her. She detested men and wished if she could remove them from the planet.

The last day of the course ended well for Varuna and she kissed Maya for being a congenial doctor. Tarun and his wife stood in Maya’s room and couldn’t explain how grateful they were to her. Maya held their hands and asked them to take good care of Varuna. Everyone left the room and the personal assistant of Maya moved Varuna’s portfolio to the ‘Closed’ closet and left for the day.

Maya sank in the chair, savoured her lemon tea and wondered how ironic life was.

- Written by Sarada Deepika