Thursday, 11 May 2017

The White Box

Stepping into the house, Aroo breathed a sigh of relief. She put down her duffle bag and reached out for the light switch. 'Darn it! No power! But I just came up eight floors by the lift! Lights from the adjoining blocks are shining bright...hmm...maybe my fuse is out. God knows how one checks the fuse!' She said to herself peering out of the windows. 'I'll go over next door for help, but after a shower,' and she set about scouting for some candles and matches in the kitchen with her mobile torch on. All she found was a tiny birthday candle. The phone beeped. Critically low battery it flashed and went out submerging the house in total darkness. Hurriedly she struck the matches to light her candle and after two tries lit it to a wee flicker. She set it to stand in a steel cup.
'Just one shower, that's all I want, is that too much to ask for?' she groaned. Picking up the tiny light she made her way to the bathroom.
The water from the shower was lukewarm but she didn't care. A sleazy item song blared from somewhere outside and she lazily gyrated to it. Letting the water flow over her body, she just stood under it and blanked out her mind.
A few minutes later, she turned off the shower. Wrapping a towel around herself, she stepped out, humming the same song. As she went to set the candle on the dressing-table, she saw something on it that made her freeze on the spot.
'How did this box get here?' She looked around furtively, instinctively pulling the towel around tighter. 'And those pearl tops, how on earth! I had definitely gotten rid of every last trace. NO, NO, NO! This can't be happening!'
She chanced another look back at the dressing-table, the little white box and the pearly pair were gone. Maybe she had just imagined it. The candle was down to a small puddle in the cup. This was her worst nightmare playing out.
And on cue, the eerie sound of a creaking door resonated through the still room.
She searched desperately to arm herself with something, anything. There was nothing on the table within her reach
Sweat ran down her back and forehead. The candle finally blinked away and she was now totally helpless, unarmed, half-naked and in total darkness. Her eyes scanned the room in the feeble light streaming from the windows. Eerie shadows flickered in the partial light.
Seconds, minutes ticked by but there was no movement or creaking door noises. Cautiously, Aroo stepped out of the bedroom and urgently reached out for the telephone. Just as she dialled 100, a skeletal hand tapped her from behind and she dropped the phone in shock. 
A blood-curling scream rent the air.

'AND CUT!' called out the director. The lights suddenly came on. She automatically shielded her eyes from the harsh glare after being in the dark for so long. 'Perfect take Divyaji! Even I started believing you were the real Aroo, you are just too good,' he complimented her.  
'Oh, sure. Can someone turn on the damn AC, I hate shooting in closed spaces,' she huffed. 'But Divyaji the AC is already on in full blast,' exclaimed the production assistant. 
The apartment was suddenly alive with the unit hands buzzing all over.
She wiped her face dry with a fresh towel and quickly slipped into a robe someone handed her. 
Divya's make-up man and hairdresser were fussing around her look for the next take. Somewhere in the background she could hear the lighting assistant and cameraman angrily squabbling. Nervously fidgeting with the belt of the robe, she felt something weigh down in the robe pocket. Her hands dug in, to wrap around a circular object, she pulled it out. The same white box from the dresser, with something rattling inside. She already knew what it would be. 
Someone was watching her every movement, right here, right now. Someone who knew about the owner of box and Divya's sordid past.

This post has been picked as a Spicy Saturday pick @BlogAdda.

Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Your Friendly Neighborhood GP

A continuous bout of minor illnesses in the family over the last few weeks, led to a number of trips to the good ol' GP and set me off thinking
How different is this dying breed of affable family doctors from the current crop of suave, detached 'medical consultants' attached to multi-specialty hospitals!

Almost all folk born in the pre-1980's era, yeah besides dinosaurs, would have encountered these now endangered species - Your Friendly Neighborhood General Practitioner.
The species was characterized by typical bald/white-haired, well-groomed, bespectacled gentlemen garbed either in pristine all-whites or well-coordinated, pressed half-sleeved shirt with a tie of course. Doctor aprons were seldom seen.

Not to forget the bulky valise or doctor's briefcase that made its entrance before the expert himself, no filmi doctor sahab was complete without it!

Let's not be gender-biased here as you did have a decent sprinkling of the fairer sex as GP's too. This breed most definitely went in for the no-nonsense, starched matronly look. 

The GP I visited in my childhood was a jolly old fella, Dr G. Dr G cracked silly jokes when you got on the weighing machine, complimented you on your increasing height, made your dad cringe when he narrated his childhood mishaps and made you lie on the examination table only if he deemed your responses to his jokes unfavorable. Then again, he decided to put you on the table, if your mommy didn't look too pleased about him being so frivolous! Once you were on the table, he half-heartedly poked around with a stethoscope that barely touched you, often forgetting to plug it into his ears and cursorily dismissed your near-fatal fever as just an extension of a common cold. From your granddad to your neighbor's uncle, he knew everyone! 
His biggest diagnostic tools, I believe were his tiny torch and his willing ear. His treatments were largely successful thanks to the faith we put in him and his fluke but bang-on prescriptions of in-house compounded mixtures, tinctures, pills, pastilles, ointments and salves. The combination of his dawa (medicine) and our dua (prayers) did the trick! Not one of us was spared a dab of the stinging iodine tincture for scrapes and cuts, sufficient deterrent to future accidents!
And then there was this Dr I who had this perpetually grave look. He never smiled, I actually thought it was a physical affliction that prevented him from even a polite smile to my father's lame jokes. He patiently listened to your symptoms without looking at you and took down copious notes in a large diary that had probably been passed down through generations. I was tremendously curious as to what he wrote in those notes in barely legible tiny scrawls, but he never left the diary idling within anyone's reach!
His lethal weapon befitted his foreboding demeanor - The one-shot-treatment for all ailments! Yes, his clinic was always filled with screams and wails of kids and sometimes the odd adult, trying to escape the needle. I was sure he gained some kind of perverse pleasure inflicting those pricks on all who came to disturb him in his sanctuary. But whatever the reason, the effect was absolutely instantaneous and infallible...practically miraculous! Most kids however feigned perfect health the minute they heard the parents discussing a visit to Dr I.
A special mention to the ubiquitous cubicle in the GP's clinic housing his man Friday a.k.a The Compounder. This gentleman had the unenviable task of deciphering the doctor's scrawls. 
Image source: Pixabay

All day long he dispensed through a tiny window in the cubicle, a complex combination of colorful pills and powders rigorously compounded with pestle and mortar, meticulously wrapped, filled up graduated bottles with a cherry red liquid that unvaryingly tasted vile and mumbled instructions that no one could hear. In fact this mysterious being never came out of his cubicle and we only saw his hands and heard his voice. I often wondered what the man did in there all day and how he actually looked. I had cooked up a male witch version, brewing potions in a cauldron and so I was terribly shocked and a trifle disappointed when I chanced upon a squat old man with twinkling eyes, pop in and out of the cubicle to assist the doctor with something.
Happy days were they, when you waited for hours sitting on the rickety benches staring at all the posters lining the walls detailing symptoms of every imaginable ailment, sniffing apprehensively the waft of spirit, listening to ladies catching up on gossip (almost everyone knew each other then), comparing notes on the doctors, there were distinct Dr G Vs Dr I loyalist camps followed by the strict hissing shhh...from the stern Sister on duty. The only thing common between the two doctors was the long queues at their clinics.

A vital part of the General Practitioner's reign was the Mrs GP, yes she was a virtual doctor herself or that's what her lady pals assumed. The ladies milked her for free tips and prescriptions whenever they met her for tea or at the market and the gracious lady never disappointed. Advising eager listeners on all their queries, this lady was a powerhouse of unlabeled expertise.

Coming back to present times, I don't really feel like discussing the niceties or the lack of them in the apathetic, business-mindedness of our current generation of medical consultants. Did you know, individual consultants affiliated to big hospitals need to bring in a target amount of business to the hospital each month? Yeah, that accounts for all those miscellaneous tests you went through on your last treatment at the fancy super-specialty hospital.

They say a Specialist is 'One who knows more and more about less and less.' Couldn't be truer!  If there is a pain in the head, will the heart specialist tend to it? The nephrologist dares not venture where the gastroenterologist rules. And Super-Specialists? They are beings we lesser mortals discuss not!
Where the old GP took care of all your physical ailments and freely counseled you on other matters, the new age medicos find it blasphemy to infringe on drawn limits of bare minimum interaction with the 'patient'.
You will always remain a 'patient' or a 'case' to them. Who wants the complication of associating aches and pains with names and faces? No, the patients do not expect their doctors to give them a 'jaadu ki jhappi' (magic hug) but just a bit of empathy and compassion could go a long way in aiding with the treatment.
With great power comes bigger responsibility said someone, but who has the time...time is money isn't it?!
The term, 'Family Doctor' then actually meant just that, the healer who was a part of the family, in sickness and health. They just don't make 'em like that any more!

Do you have memories of Your Friendly Neighborhood GP? Do share, would love to hear!
This post has been picked as a 
Spicy Saturday Pick @blogadda

­­Copyright © 2017 KALA RAVI