Sunday, March 23, 2014



VERY TIME THERE IS AN ADVERTISEMENT for   Body Odour or Perfume cylinders with or without gas, targeted at the minds of the impressionable youth, creating a delusion of their potent effect on the female of the specie, on the TV screen and these are many  and frequent, I am reminded of the dreary room in the VIP ward of the RR Army Hospital.

 I had been running a low temperature, especially in the evenings, progressively loosing energy and becoming weak in addition my gate was getting prone to loosing balance and     falling down.

The Specialists  of the local Kailash Hospital despite advising   tests after tests, all   giving   negative results,  had not been able to provide any succour, Even a desperate visit to the local Homeopath did not help.

As a last resort I thought it better to get admitted in R R Army Hospital, where they could   conduct research on me, diagnose and hopefully treat me back to health...

 With the ECH cover now provided to the retired personnel of the Services getting referred, to RR is a bit tricky.  However, I did manage and landed in the Neurology Department OPD.  After a long wait, with the department chockfull of patients, my number flashed and I was wheeled in the consulting room by my son, Ranjit, where a young Lt Col recorded my case history in detail. I was also made to walk in a straight line and do some twists and turns, a few question were thrown at a me regarding my various faculties,

After a short consultation among the Head of Department and the junior doctors it was decided that I was a fit case to be admitted:   for research leading to the advancement of medical science. And that is how   I landed in the dreary room with two of the three beds already occupied.

Apart from the routine   blood and urine tests   soon started  the daily trips  to the more exotic X rays, ECGs, EEGs  and  MRIs  and other   labs with State of Art equipment, recently acquired requiring testing  and practice  on the recently acquired patient.

 I was subjected to electronic pin pricks, on my legs,  calves, on my forehead ,temples and many more places, by transducers  connected to shiny boxes with knobs, dials , flashing lights and flat panel displays, adding their own electronic hum and crackles, coupled  my sighs and ouches  uttered at each prick,   to the  hum of the Split AC.

It was every day a new lab, every day a new box, some so recently acquired that the test was conducted by the supplier’s engineer, and a new instrument of torture for me.

What these test revealed or did not, was the result   negative or positive I was never made privy to: a National secret or an RR secret, except the usual assurances by the doctor on his daily morning rounds.

  Coming back to the room, and the main story, with thee beds occupied by  so called VIP patients in  various stages of disrepair, all in a state of flux moving in and out of the room to and back from laboratories, Operating theatre, ICU  or getting discharge as the case may be.

 “We are near the diagnosis,” was the usual refrain; with me eagerly awaiting the Final Diagnosis. That did come on one morning...

“You have Tubercular meningitis”

T B was a dreaded word, remembered from child hood, as dreaded then as Cancer is now.

I took the announcement bravely and with out betting an eyelid  

“What Next “I asked

“Now we treat you”

“How did you come to this conclusion? ’

“We did a Lumber Puncher”

So started the long and slow treatment, a number of capsules taken couple  of times a day, I remained in the hospital for a few days more   till the  fever was brought under control.

On discharge, my son drove me to our flat in Greater Noida, where there was no help waiting   to look after and  provide support , this onerous duty falling in the willing hands of Ramjet ,  by default, but that is another story to be told some other  time.

 The treatment which could be effective, partly effective or totally ineffective, this I was told much later on one of the review visit to the Hospital., by then I had progressed well on the path to recovery  and possibly considered in   a fit mental state   to  be apprised of the severity of my affliction and possible consequences.

Reverting to the main thread of the story, when in room,   I become a silent spectator to the comings and goings around me. Visitors arriving with broad grins,   move straight to their near and dear ones ignoring the others like me. The wives, soon on arrival getting busy with setting house from the various carry bags, brought along, moving items from one bag to other from the bag to the cupboard top and back in the bag, a frantic activity to keep the mind busy and occupied.

Friends narrating   stores from old times, while in service and sharing their own ailments and nicks, hoping to cheer up the disinterested patient albeit making him tired, who has to,  Wily Nelly,   suffer  them, with a wane smile in addition to his own predicaments of the moment.

  The bed next to me is occupied by one not only with medical problems but also   burdened with other more pressing issues. His diatribes, soliloquies and angry mumblings have the poor wife a suffering and silent listener.

 The two daughters, one of them unmarried, hover around.   The   son -in- law, not part of the inner circle, with a deadpan expression, a bit distraught, a bit fore lone,  there but not there,   stands slightly away..

 The junior sisters who tend and look after us watch us with compassion and curiosity. The senior sister, a Lt Col, a bit of a battle axe, is there to keep every one, the staff and the patients included, under   control and check with her sharp tongue.

There is also a young ward boy, meticulous in his grooming, shrouded in an envelope of liberally doused with one of the sprays being advertised on the TV.   Not too welcome but always hovering around and over zealous to tend to the patient behind the cloth screen, in the process creating additional tension in the mother, and the married daughter.

He, smitten with the young daughter is under the illusion,  thanks to the  suggestive power  of TV advertisements, convinced of the power  of the  perfume cloud  enveloping him,  that he has made a mark  on  her and has some thing going for him: possibly a small smile,  a long eye contact   had   acted as a  the trigger, or may be there was   really more   than some thing gong between them .

One day he looses his object of desire, the daily visits come to a stop as the father is discharged to home.

What happened to his short lived romance, remained one sided or was responded? Did he stalk her or set up a vigil at her house on his off days? I wonder.

 The social gap, between the two, that was too large to bridge or did it get bridged?

Who is to be blamed : the barrage of  suggestive advertisements on the TV  showing  a gaggle of lissom ladies in various stages of undress, getting  willingly entrapped in the cloud of the perfume spray or the gullible  youth  of  today getting misguide and  away from the reality of life..

 But that  the real  charm of youth : experimenting,  without fear of the outcome   and consequences,  having  immense faith and confidence in self,  ever  willing to experiment, taste  and enjoy. Hang the consequences. Live life,   Live for Now.


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