By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD
As a practising Physician, I have had my share of quite a few very hilarious but very embarrassing situations although the ones concerning my patients cannot be revealed to my readers because of the very personal and very confidential relationship any doctor has with his or her patients. I would like to narrate here a couple of the comic but embarrassing situations I found myself in.
More than twenty-five-years ago I was working as a Physician attached to the Holy Cross Christian Mission Hospital at a place called Kamagere in Kollegal Taluk. Because I was a doctor, I was a very important person socially and I used to get invited to all functions in and around the place. I was once invited to be the chief guest for the Gandhi Jayanthi celebrations at the local school.
On the day of the event, as I was about to leave the house, my one-and-a half-year-old daughter Sarah announced that she too wished to attend the function with me. No amount of persuasion from my wife and me that there was no time to get her ready helped. Finally we convinced her that she could get ready and go a little later escorted by our maid servant.
As I was delivering my speech, I saw her waving to me excitedly as she was carried into the school quadrangle by the maid. I motioned her to sit down in the front row which she refused to do with a stern face and insisted on coming onto the dais. I relented and asked her to sit on the chair I had vacated. She sat there for a few seconds and then walked up to me and insisted that I should carry her while speaking. Now, fathers have very little choice when it comes to their young children’s wishes and so I relented once again and picked her up much to the amusement of the crowd. That was when she insisted that she also wanted to speak into the microphone! And, that was when I summoned a little mock anger and refused to let her do it.
But now the crowd was in her favour. There were loud screams from the audience that I should let her say a few words and I had to yield to public demand. As I held her close to the microphone she said in a loud and clear voice, “Dad, mom told me to tell you that she wants us back home immediately after the function!” There was thunderous applause, wolf whistles and loud cheering from all around for her speech. That was also the end of my speech and my day!
Another incident from that time is worth recalling. There was no telephone facility at Kamagere and the nearest town was Kollegal, about fifteen kilometres away and that was where I had to go very often to call up my parents and other relatives from a public telephone booth.
One very rainy evening when I had to make an urgent phone call I boarded a rickety bus to Kollegal and requested the conductor to drop me close to a telephone booth so that I would not have to walk in the rain from the bus stand. With the due reverence everyone has for a doctor in any small place, he very happily agreed to do so and he in turn instructed the driver accordingly.
As soon as the bus stopped at the first yellow glow sign of a PCO, I thanked both of them and blindly dashed into the low tiled structure to avoid getting drenched in the rain which had by now become torrential. When I controlled my own momentum and brought myself to a halt with some effort, I found that I was in the middle of a small, very dimly lit room full of acrid tobacco smoke with boisterous people sitting at tables with their drinks. It took some time for me to realise that in my hurry to rush into the telephone booth I had landed deep inside the seedy tavern that stood next door!
While I did not recognise any of the people around me, they recognised me immediately despite the drinks they had imbibed and the dim lights and the dense smoke all around us! From their bewildered expressions which outclassed mine, I could make out that they were all shell-shocked that a well-known doctor like me had chosen such a miserable place to drown my sorrows. But men are so kind, compassionate and forgiving when it comes to understanding one another’s pain and the milk of human kindness started gushing forth.
Before I could find the exit and rush out I found myself surrounded by a dozen burly men who were nudging each other to get close to me. Each one of them began to request me to join him at his table to have my drink and none of them was willing to believe me when I told them that I did not drink and had only landed in their midst by mistake! It was not their fault.
Now, who will believe a person when he arrives at a bar during the happy hour and announces that he is not there to drink? With a great deal of effort I convinced them that my presence there was purely accidental and sheepishly walked out with my head bowed and my face shrouded with the upturned collar of my jacket. In case you do not know, if you are a teetotaller like me, exiting a bar unseen and unrecognised is no easy job !