Thursday, February 28, 2008

Black and White

Roshan sat on the tall chair and waited for instructions.

“Ok Roshan! Here we go. Read aloud each alphabet on this board. Line-by-line.” said the doctor in a friendly tone.

“P F W K C N S Q X D Y U…” He read along with no sign of trouble. However, slowly the letters appeared smaller with every other line. While he was half-way through the struggle to deciphering the last word in the 5th line, the doctor spoke –

“That’s good! Now….. look at this. What number do you see?”

“18” said Roshan instantly.

“And this one.” the doctor continued.

“27” he said, even quicker.

Taking out the last plate in the stack, the doctor asked, “How about this last one?”

Roshan stared into the card, unable to notice anything but differentially sized green circles. He looked closer. Still nothing.

“It’s got no number. Just green circles.” he said, curling the corner of his lips into a you-can’t-trick-me-boss kind of smile.

“You really can’t identify any number Roshan?” the doctor questioned again, drawing his eyebrows together and staring straight into his eyes. Roshan was the first patient in his 2 years of private practice who had such wonderful eyes – sparkling and blue.

“Nopes.” He replied, this time more confident than the previous.

“Let me look at your eyes. Sit erect on this chair and look into this eyepiece.” the doctor said, moving over to the other end of the machine and seating himself on a high raised chair.

Bright rays of light flashed right into Roshan’s lens. It took him a few seconds before he could get accustomed to such high intensity of light. The doctor examined him for a minute in silence and finally broke the silence –

“I suspect you have colour blindness Roshan. Have you ever noticed?”

“Dammit!” Roshan blurted out, running his fingers through the neatly cropped hair. Getting himself back together, he continued bluntly -

“No. I havnt’t.”

The doctor explained to him that it is most certainly genetic (inherited from his father). After discussing the possible solutions, Roshan walked out of the consultation room – with one big shattered dream.

Later that evening, Roshan sat at the balcony, staring into the open star studded sky – it was no less beautiful than a neat blanket spread with tiny specks of glittering crystals. This was the first instance in a really long time that he was quiet. The silence echoing from him was too unusual for an energetic and enthusiastic guy like him.

As he was watching an airplane fly past the dark sky, his brother walked in from behind and said –

“Hey! Apart from the good brains, I heard dad gave you some bad genes as well! Well you pilot wannabe, get over it!”

Anger gushed right from the bottom of Roshan’s stomach. Without turning back to look into his brother, Roshan shouted -

“Shut up and get lost before I bang your head! A big head with no brains is all you’ve got.”

His brother stood there giggling.

Unable to bear it any longer, Roshan spun around on his chair, pointed his index finger to his eyes and said sternly,

“He gave me amazing blue eyes! You didn’t manage even that!”

His brother fled out of the room, leaving Roshan to stare into an identical pair of blue eyes – only that they looked remorseful.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Once upon a time...

I waited for my clock to strike 6, wanting to rush back home and catch my favourite 7pm show on NBC. Today would have been just-another-day in my life if not for her.

There she was, near the parking lot. I walked past her, my head straight, trying to catch a glimpse of her through the corner of my eyes. I walked in a manner I very rarely do - quick long steps, looking hurried. Was it because I feared that she might hear my heart pounding loud? Or did I fear that I might blurt out to her what might one day be the inevitable words from my mouth? Or was this just not the right moment to let her know that I knew not of a world that existed beyond her?

I strode to my car as fast as I could and opened the door to the back seat to put my laptop bag. My heart still throbbed, sending pulses of fear to my entire body. And then it happened. While I was bent down to clean up the back seat and safely keep my bag, I felt a hand rest on my shoulder. Almost thrown off the ground, I found myself staring at her – those beautiful sparkling eyes that for the first time reflected mine.

“Happy Valentines Day Raj!” She said shyly, her cheeks turning pink.

“Hey! Thank you Roshni! Wish you the same. I wanted to come over myself to wish u!” I said, carefully placing each of my words.

“Why didn’t you then?” She asked me, like a kid questioning her father.

“Hmm… I don’t know… I didn’t know how you would take it.” I said, slowly.

“Why? What’s wrong?” She emphasized, as if cajoling me into getting those safely-locked-up-words out of the mouth.

“Welll.. you are a ggrreat friend.. anddd I didn’t want to spoil things between us. Sooo yeah.” I stammered.

She looked at me, right through my eyes. It felt like she was scanning my heart to catch a glimpse of those 3 words that were so strongly etched and hidden in one corner. Those 3 words that I had for 2 years now saved - just for her.

“Why do you think what I think Raj?" she asked me, out-of-the-blue, sounding naughty and affirmative.

“Because I think the same.” I said, with a confidence I never knew I would have in front of her.

“Hehe! Well then, why this hide-and-seek?” She asked me.

The last place that I had imagined having the conversation of my lifetime was my office parking area. It seemed a perfectly strange place to propose to the woman of my life. Finally, deciding that I would not get a better opportunity, I opened my mouth and uttered those words that shall ever haunt me-

“So, is it a yes or a get out?”

My heart raced at a pace it never has since I was born. My world swirled.

“Does waiting for one person for 2 years mean a get out?” she retorted, casually.

Oh God! Who the heck would reply like that for a proposal? I hated the way she always had to make things so complex. Can’t we just break it and go bang – ‘Look-!-This-is-what-I-think-about-you’ and get done with it?

Before I could take my anger any further, my heart was now throbbing with excitement and swarmed with happiness. I wanted to kneel down right there and tell her how much I loved her. I wanted to go atop the tallest building in the city and shout to the world that she loves me too. I had always thought its Bollywood that comes up with such fantasizing ideas of being love struck, but that day, each of my own criticisms backfired.

While I stood floating on cloud nine, gaping at her and still trying to ask myself if what was happening was indeed happening, she stole me of that one ultimate chance of a lifetime.

“I love you Raj.” She said, in a plain soft tone. The words touched my heart before they reached my ears.

“I love you Roshni.” I said. My eyes felt warm. I wanted to cry – cry on her lap.

We stood there, too excited to talk, relishing the new dimension of silence that prevailed between us – a silence filled with meaning, a thousand words, a million symphonies and endless love.

Finally, she broke the silence and asked me to take her out.

“Somewhere. Anywhere.” she said, like a kid. I began to love her more for that innocence.

I opened the front door of my car and offered to her the seat that was meant specially for her. I took out a small poster from the dashboard and stuck it on the rear glass of my car. It was a poster that I had bought in a car accessories store almost 3 years ago. I had saved it for that one day – the one day which I had no idea when to anticipate. I started my car, for that ‘somewhere-anywhere’ that she wanted to go.

Finally, with the two of us, my car rolled out of the parking lot, gleaming with the words, “Princess on Board” at the back.

P.S.: Happy Valentine's day :)

Thursday, February 07, 2008


The early morning rays shot right onto his face through the blinds of his window. The weather was cool and the warmth of the sunrays only made him cuddle closer into the blanket. The alarm blew off on the desk beside him and he simply popped his hand out of the blanket and put it on snooze. Everyday in Ranjit’s life was a fresh new start – smitten with excitement, pressure, happiness, distress and a constant battle with the one thing that no one has possibly beaten - death.

Being a doctor for the past 10 years had its own effects on Ranjit. He was a changing man – with every year, every day, every patient, every sickness and every cure. Medicine had taught him some amazing lessons in life, one amongst which was to enjoy the whole act of ‘being alive’ before you are taken over by something totally unexpected.

He never really complained about how medicine made him disclose certain unpleasant truths to his patients or their relatives. It was a part of his job and he had by now learnt to deal with it. However, there was one thing that Ranjit thoroughly disliked about his profession. It was the way medicine made him look at each of his close ones in the perspective of what could possibly harm them. There was this constant surge of diagnosis that silently ran across his mind as he mingled with his relatives and friends.

The alarm got alive again and finally Ranjit slithered out of his bed and got himself ready to leave to the hospital. He made himself hot coffee and a few slices of butter toast and got into his car. The radio jarred in his car as he drove just under the speed limit on the highway. Upon reaching the hospital he checked on his patients and went straight to the lab to collect some results.

“So, have you gotten the results of that kid in Room 712?” asked Ranjit. He had his hands locked at the back. Fingers crossed.

“Oh. Yes. That child is positive for leukemia. But I guess we are still in the early stages, aren’t we?” Asked the lady. Her eyes looked at him desperately for a positive answer.

“I think so. I’ve got to see the kid. I’ll see u later. Thanks Brinda.” Ranjit spoke in a broken hasty voice and sped away from the lab to the Room 712.

From outside the glass door, he saw the 15-year-old’s mother reading out a sports magazine to him, as he lay down staring at the pictures in the book. Ranjit knocked the door and walked in.

“How are you feeling Jay?” Ranjit spoke in a soft voice.

“Not bad.” Said Jay excited.

After some morning pep talk, Ranjit had no choice but to come to the tough matter in hand. He called Jay’s mother aside and explained to her that her son was now suffering from cancer and that it was possible to nip it off since the diagnosis had been made early. He quickly dealt with the flood of emotions that followed the dreadful news and assured to do his best. A few minutes later he walked back to the Jay’s bed.

“Anything wrong with me?” asked the kid as soon as he saw Ranjit get into the door while his mom stood sobbing outside the room.

Ranjit knew what to say. It was just going to be hard.

Slowly, his voice broke and he bent down to the kid and said, “It’s nothing Jay. You are sick, like every other person in this place.”

“What kind of sickness?” asked Jay, in a voice demanding the entire truth.

“Hmm… Well. Its nothing that should worry you provided you promise me something.” said Ranjit, looking eagerly at Jay.

“You are weird. I’ve never seen a doctor ask his patient a promise. What is it anyway?”

Ranjit felt cold upon hearing Jay’s words. He continued, “I need you to cooperate with my treatment. I’ll make sure you get back to school as soon as possible. Deal?”

“Sure. I promise.” replied Jay.

Just when Ranjit turned to leave, Jay held his hand and called him back.

“Will it hurt doctor?” asked Jay, his face suddenly turning pale.

“I’ll make sure it doesn’t.” assured Ranjit, patting him on his shoulder.

Looking up at Ranjit in between his eyebrows and holding out his palm, Jay asked him in a whisper, “Promise?”

“Promise.” Ranjit replied holding Jay’s open palm.

Thus begins another story of every patient’s childish fear, every relative’s flawless hope, and every doctor’s faithful promise.