March 6th. That evening Abhilash was returning from office normally walking down the market.
And again he gave a look towards the Dentist’s clinic. And since last days he was feeling a sensation in one of tooth, he thought to go inside and get it checked. He waited outside doctor’s chamber. There was no other patient that time. From the seat he sat, he was able to see a fair lady sitting in plain sky color salwar suit – talking with some person.
“A Nurse – she may be.. “, he thought .
After the patient came out, the so the seemingly nurse followed. Abhilash asked her , “Is Doctor inside ?”.
“Yes please come in.” She said and Abhilash followed her.
She sat on the doctor’s chair. Abhilash was surprised to see the simplicity of the doctor. To whom he thought as a nurse.
Round face, encapsulating perfectly pink lips, fair color. hairs well tied behind, height may be around 5′ 2″. Hard to believe her as a doctor – still looked liked some medical college passout – straight from the class. Her age can be hardly 25, he guessed.
“Name ?” She asked with cool voice.
“29. Next month, I will be 30.”- he smiled.
At first she wrote 29 and did overwriting and made it 30. She too smiled, keeping her head still low.
She asked about his problem.
“Take out your tongue” she said politely. He was surprised on it otherwise all the grey haired doctors say with a command.”TAKE OUT YOUR TONGUE”
She asked about his dental history and at the same time she was writing on the prescription. Abhilash was looking at her thin fingers holding the pen. Hundreds of girl he might have seen. And she was different altogether, even in her simplicity. And his sixth sense was not wrong, he was sure.
She made an instant impression on his mind. He had a look on her forehead – any vermillion marks? No. Mangal sutra – No. Okey, may be she is married – as being a south Indian its difficult to mark it out sometimes. But he without any clue, after seeing her innocent face and her peaceful smile – Abhilash can guarantee that she was unmarried.
“Why don’t you get your teeth’s scaling done, it has accumulated tartar ” , she suggested after writing the medicines and mouth wash name.
“How much it will cost ?” He asked back, as it was another chance to come back and see that innocent smile.
“800 (Rs). for two or three sessions” , she said.
“Is 800 (Rs.) for each session?” Abhilash wanted to confirm. Even though he was ready for 800 Rs. per session just to meet her.
“Nah ! ” She smiled, ” Don’t worry ! 800 for all two or three session. After one session it can be said how many more sessions you may need. ”
“When can I came?” he asked hiding his impatience.
“You have to get a prior appointment” “Where do you stay ? ” she asked.
“Behind Natraj Building, Nirvana Apartments” He said. Natraj building was at walkable distance from there.
“Then you can come in evening too. Is not it ? Is evening time fine for you ?” She said and took out her diary. “Is this Friday ok for you, 6:30 pm”
“How long one session takes ?” he asked as if he didn’t want long sessions !
“Approx. half an hour.”
“Then okay, Friday is fine for me, I will come straight from office. I will confirm you before I come. May I have your number?”
‘Its written on prescription, my personal cell no. Yeah you may give me a call.”
The smile, glowing face, simplicity and the small touch on his cheek during the check up was different. Night spent sleepless. On the prescription, he read her name Vandana Rao. Yeah she was a south Indian, “unmarried” – thinking he smiled. Sleeping on bed, in the darkness, his face was glowing when he was saving her number in his mobile.
He put a cute girl icon with her name.
Tuesday….. Thursday……. and Friday came. In office, he was feeling the air around fragrant as it seemed his first love. He was happy and everyone can read that. Lunch
was over and he put alarm in his mobile at 5.00. He will leave early from office – not in the office cab. He will hire an auto and go to Vandana’s clinic. He had to leave, the office by 5:15 at any cost.
He reached there by 6:10. But the seat from where he can see the doctor was occupied by a fat lady, holding her swollen cheek. The talks inside was coming out. He wanted her to see. She seemed to be busy with other patient and the scaling machine seemed to be running. It was 6:45 now.
Suddenly she came out. She smiled, pulling her face mask down. Today in doctor’s apron she was looking like a doctor, not a girl.
Though she seemed tired but still the face was radiating energy.
Seeing Abhilash sitting, she smiled and said “Wait please, just one more patient then I will call you.”
“No problem, I will wait” – He smiled with a great satisfaction.
The fat woman went inside and her equally fat husband accompanied her. After 5 mins, the couple came out and Doctor called “Abhilash.”
“Take out specs and lie down there”
She prepared the next set of instruments and made the dental chair flat. She started scaling with small needles type instruments. At first it was painful for Abhilash. He was uncomfortable.
Her two palms were occasionally resting on his clean shaven cheeks. “Did you ever get your teeth’s scaling done?” and like this she was talking and simultaneously moving swiftly her fingers inside mouth.
In the process, his mouth became full of medicated water and saliva.
“Spit it out and rinse mouth with water”
He did so.
The tingling sensation of scaling machine seemed to be unbearable. The doctor was standing and carefully doing the scaling, He understood that even a small miss of doctor will make a wound in tongue or cheek.
He felt on his head something soft touched. The tingling sensation flowed from teeth to head. She was careful for him, but careless for herself. Her body was touching his head. Now he could feel it clearly.
Scaling was going on. He was said to spit it out again. Again the process started. She stood close to him. He thought – may psychologically doctor wants to keep the pain out with her touch.
“Stupid thoughts for a doctor”- he scolded himself. But after a while there was no pain while scaling was being done.
“Is its paining now” she asked.
“Very little” and true he was. It was a motherly touch, he guessed. But there was a different kind of feeling for the lady – he was sure.
Half an hour passed off. Not a single time he pondered to think, what’s program is going on the TV kept in front.
He was said to come after 15 days. May be two more session required.
After 15 days, he called him before coming to clinic. She said – not to come – as she had some personal urgent work.
Personal work – what can be ! “May be… May be ….”
Anyway he was happy that next day she called him in morning being holiday for him
Next morning he took a fast breakfast and was ready to lie down on dental chair for the scaling by 11 in the morning.
There was no patient in the clinic at the time. And as he reached there, he found, she was waiting for him.
“Come Abhilash, how are you feeling now.” “Did you brush twice as I said?” she asked treating him like a kid.
He like it! Her smile was contagious.
Suddenly a tall good looking person in formal dress came inside and went outside without saying anything. May be some patient in waiting..
That day she seemed to be relaxed and gave more attention to him. He had absoultely no pain that day. As she was really smooth in her scaling process.
She suggested for one tooth filling done afterwards. Scaling seemed near to completion,
“Abhilash, I think you need not do the third session. I have cleaned all the tarter. Your enamel is thin. Third session may affect that.”
Abhilash thought there would be three sessions, and he would get more chance to talk with her. As she too asked about him, his family his job etc.
Abhilash was now in a mess ! He had hoped for a third session. He wanted to come more frequently there. To make the situation worst, he had paid only Rs 300 in first session. And he realized he had left in purse in home and there may be maximum of Rs. 200 in his jean’s pocket. He was still lying on chair, unable to check his back jean’s pocket with a touch.
She did his tooth polishing. He washed his mouth. There was still soothing feeling in him with her treatment. But now his problem was he did not carry Rs. 500/- with him.
He sat down. Tried to cool him self internally. He gathered his smile and thought to make himself normal. Doctor was in her chair. He put his hand his pocket, took out money. It was not even Rs. 200. There was total 188 Rs. there ! Rs. 12 – he bought the bread packet in morning.
“I have forgetten my purse in home today, I have 150/- now, can I bring the rest money in 20 min.” He said feeling guilt.
“No need to go now for bringing your purse, whatever you have now, you can give. Rest you may give later.” She said calmly.
Abhilash didn’t wanted to leave early after giving her money, as already there will not be 3rd session. He wanted to talk more, if possible. Though a mechanical engineer by profession, he had an inclination towards the medical science, so do for the doctor clearly.
There were medical books on the table. He guessed out she may be preparing for masters degree as she holds a bachelor’s degree only. He thought to start a talk on the title of the book kept on table – “Autism”
“Are you preparing for M.S. or M.D.? ” he asked
“No why ?” she smiled.
“Nah I thought so,” He continued “But this book is related to mental health. And you are dentist. Do you have some interest in mental health.”
“I am reading for myself .”
“Yeah myself, this book I have brought from US. This is good book.”
“But have you any specific interest in mental health studies?”
“I read it for my two year’s old son.”
Darkness surrounded him. She was married and have a son too, who was born like that. It happens 1 in 250 children. He became bloodless. Hands cold. How this lady keeps her smile intact always, looking so innocent.
Abhilash knew very well – “What is Autism ?”
He was looking at her. She was telling about herself. From day one to him, she was like a friend. Yeah like a friend – as some persons spread the aura of friendly attitude for everyone. She was telling him about her son more. There was a soothing touch in her voice, a pain hidden inside.
Suddenly she realized something and said ,” Abhilash, my husband is waiting outside. I have to leave now.”
“How she knew her husband had come. No phone call ! ” Abhilash thought,” Oh the tall man who came inside was his husband for sure. A gentleman indeed. ” Abhilash wished for her son’s well being and praised the lady’s courage. He came out assuring her to meet again with the rest money.
That night too Abhilash was lying on bed, but he was relaxed recalling her face.
Her smiling ever face was revolving in his eyes, and her words were reverberating in his ears – ” I was a doctor, but never thought my child will have autism. Though my husband was knowing of the child’s symptoms, but till one year he did not told me anything. He thought I will feel pain, if I knew. But now I am prepared for taking care of his future. He seems to be improving with my care…. May God have found me strong enough that I can do this duty perfectly…. ”
“May God have found me strong enough that I can do…….”
In the soothing vibrations, slept Abhilash with a selfless feeling, recalling the young lady’s smile – that was divine – beyond pink lips.