“Name–?” – “sauvik”
“Age –?” – “23”
It began with some casual questions and some curt yet tensed answers. I needed to value that 23 years of life, and show to the world I am as solid as the rock, let whatever comes up.
“Hmmm… a few cystic areas on the right femoral head, a well defined lytic lesion on the iliac bone” murmured the doctor, “ when was the last time you had the operation told me?” he asked me eyes peeping out of the thick framed moony spectacles.
“Around ’95, almost 13 years back and there has been no complaints afterwards till the last month.” came my ma’s reply, dry but hopeful. Dry because she wasn’t conversant in cyst terminologies and hopeful because she felt that the doctor must have been wrong somewhere.
“Hmm… your son has the same problem once again, the cyst that was there 13 years had come back, recurred, only that it has grown in size, and it just might be a giant cell cyst, but nothing much to fret about, he needs some surgical intervention , and it will all be okay, as good as new.” The doctor explained under one breath.
“Was the last statement really required?” I mean why he needs to give that finishing touch? To show he’s the god around in town? I stole a short glance at my ma, thought I read something, anyways.
“How long would it take for the recovery, i mean before I can start off with office?”
“More than 3 months, but let’s see nothing’s decided as of now”, the doctor obviously a bit disturbed by my impatience.
I looked into her eyes, she had hundreds of questions, she won’t ask, she needs to show that she’s strong at least in front of me. She can’t look into my eyes lest she sees the eyes swelling up, neither can I, same reason. Sometimes I feel like laughing at the situation we are in. When the eyes speak more than you can bear, it’s better not to look into them.
“I will write down some investigations for you, and the usual blood tests will be there, get these things down, we need to be a bit careful this time, and don’t forget to take the elbow crutch, the fees should be paid over there…” said the doctor.
“Appointment’s over”, I thought, indirectly yet politely. My dad did the remaining formalities at the counter and walked to me.
“Put your over my shoulders, till I get your crutch” I put my hands over his shoulders, withered yet strong, stubborn, as I limped back to the cab.
My thoughts were scything my conscience into thousands of pieces. I wanted to laugh at my fucking luck, but not even a smile came to my lips. A bird with “freedom”, “fly”, “high” echoing in its heart and wings ready to take off, shouldering all the responsibilities. This was the day I was waiting for. Suddenly I felt as a pair of invisible hand rose from beneath the ground, and choked me, cut my wings, wringed my feathers, as I lay bloodied onto the ground. When the bird could have flown high, nearly touching the North Star or may be play with the red ball of fire in the twilight zone of the western horizon, lifting it, coming out, going in to the depth of the clouds, grazing the air, against the hungry tide, unruffled.
It took another pain staking 30 minutes to reach home. I was almost silent during that time, but ma kept on talking, talking and talking, maybe she felt distressed that way, or maybe I thought so. She talked about everything to nothing in between. About how things would turn out to be absolutely fine, about “no-nothings” at all, about family matters, about my childhood crusades, about Mumbai and about how I came to sleep beside her, in the middle of the night, after I had a ghostly nightmare. She gave me an affectionate smile and asked, “You still afraid of ghosts? Ha-ha”. She had this god-gifted talent of making people laugh even in the grimmest moments and how much I could run to see that smile in her face can anyone tell me? So finally the much awaited smile came to my face; I was blushing, aware of my cousin’s scornful look. I almost blurred out, “No! Ma!! It was just that one single night. Did I lie?
“No rice for me ma nowadays that I am jobless as ever; you wouldn’t want a pot-bellied son or do you?” I shouted as she kept herself busy in the kitchen.
“Don’t worry nothing will happen, see what you don’t to yourself, eating all those vada-pavs and idli-dosas” she stressed.
“But, ma, I am not doing any—-”
“You looked so beautiful when you were under my care, all round faced and all; look at you now, no girl will marry you!”
“That’s good isn’t it?” I said triumphantly.
“And what happened to her—?”
“You know who… in your school…you told me about… She’s left you? Aww!!” she chuckled.
“Whaat?? Ma, will you please change the topic? I was suddenly all red.
“Here, have the milk then, I won’t talk about her, just close your eyes and gulp it down”
“Miiiilk? I hate milk, you better talk about her, than me having milk.”
“No, wait, sorry, you don’t talk. No talk about anything or anybody. I ll drink it up.” I was almost devastated.
“Milk is good for health, more of a calcium diet, the doc prescribed you one.” Ma was saying.
I slumped into the sofa, I knew it was futile to wage a war against ma’s wishes, fidgeted with the remote control, switched channels, lazily, and thought, why can’t they invent a calcium enriched cigarette. Not only calcium, but vitamins too. All re-packed and re-branded. Then nobody would be going after us, for smoking around. Even if they do, we can happily give them a nice black eye.
It had been 10 days without a puff for me. God!!
“A copy of jefferrey archer’s, “my prison days” lay carelessly by my side.