“Dude you car sucks big time! I feel like peeing on its top to cool it down.”
“Why don’t you just stay shut up? It’s 48 degrees outside. How the fu*k do you expect the AC to work? We have just started, not even 10 minutes yet!”
“Well I hate your car. That’s it. It sucks really huge. Last time you blew up a tyre at Milakpur. I m glad I am still alive. I bet the patients in this hospital enjoy better cooling than us”, I said as I pointed to the five storey hospital building on the opposite side of the road.
Rohan raised an eyebrow. “You think you want to check out?” He smiled at me as he said this. I knew what he meant. We had lots of time to kill as we were waiting for girls and parking was not a problem as we were stuck in traffic. Traffic in Delhi moves with a speed of inches per hour. So it wasn’t any trouble. Rohan pulled over to the pavement and navigated through the pedestrians to park the car in the park beside. (Yes you can do that in my city.)
We got down and walked across the road. Traffic on both sides – like a zebra laid on road wherever you want. You can cross roads blindfold because you know no car would move. It’s just the reflected sunlight and heat that radiates off the car bonnets that almost dehydrates your face while you walk eight lanes. But we did it. As we were done crossing we realized that we actually stood near the subway.
“Dumb*ss, Why didn’t you tell me we had a subway built here?”
“Well even you were eyed enough to see it, weren’t you? Don’t give me reasons to make you donate your eyes at this hospital today.”
“You how stupid was this? It was like peeing a public urinal to aim at the phenyl balls.”
“Oh so you have done that as well?”
“Come-on everyone does that.”
So there we were – at the main entrance of hospital. It was a modern building covered all with glass.
“You know why they put glass on the building?”
“Umm…So you can comb your hair looking at it?” Rohan pulled out a comb from his pocket and started doing his hair.
“Hmm…No. Because they want to save the cost of plastering the outer wall.”
“Oh is it so? My bad.” Rohan made a face and slid back the comb in his pocket.
We went in and passed through the reception area unnoticed. As soon as we were in corridors we knew that we had gate-crashed the hospital successfully. We ran across the subsequent doors maneuvering between doctors, nurses, patients and assistants.
“Can you please let me run behind you?”
“And why so?”
“I feel like Rose running away from Jack this way. That way I would feel Jack chasing Rose.”
“Such a sucker!”
We arrived at the surgical ward. A place full of broken/cut-open/torn/stitched/mutilated people. One old folk turned towards us while in his bed and said, “Looking for someone?”
“Oh no! We are just hanging around”, I confused the oldie.
There was another middle-aged dude in his bed. “Son, can you please set the time and date in my phone? I just gave my phone to someone for making a call and he fiddled with the settings.”
“Nah its cool dude”, I took the phone and set date and time.
“Check out his memory. This guy looks a pimp”, prompted Rohan.
“You see that plastic bag hanging over there?”
“Yeah. What’s that used for? What’s that yellow fluid in there?”
“He pees in it.”
“What!! In a plactic bag?”
“Yup. Can you guess why?”
“Probably his shaft doesn’t work”
“Yup. So I am not wasting my time searching his memory.”
I returned the dude his phone with a wink. “Auntyji must be having a tough time with you”, clarified Rohan. We left him mesmerized and pondering over what we just said and moved out of the room. A little further in the gallery we came across a huge glass door. In fact, there were three successive glass doors one after the other and then there was a glass window. We peeped in through glass doors covering eyes with hands to avoid our own reflections in it and get a look of what was inside. A curtain was drawn on the glass window, so all we could see was a couple of shoes removed in front of us and many green colored apron kind of things, more of a convocation dress than an apron to be precise.
“Should we go in?” asked Rohan.
“Have you gone nuts? You know why there are successive glass doors here?”
“Nah. It’s like a lab of some sci-fi movie.”
“Dude all these consecutive sections are to sterilize any possible microbes on the visitors. I guess cancer patients are kept in this ward. They have nearly zero immunity. At times a simple fever can kill them. You see not even shoes are allowed inside and you need to change to these green clothes before entering”, I said as I pointed to the changing room on out left.
“That’s so sad. How do you know about it?”
“Read it somewhere, maybe online I guess.”
We were in midst of our knowledge exchange when a middle-aged dark man came out of the room. He was coming towards us. Initially we thought of just moving away but we didn’t. He came close to us and just the glass door was between him and us.
“Why are you here?”
“We are looking for our relative. Even he is admitted in this ward”, he didn’t look like the hospital staff so we could lie anything.
“Only my daughter lives in this ward. She is four years old. She is suffering from blood cancer since last two years. It was treated once but now it has reappeared. Doctors will be transplanting bone marrow from my elder daughter into her. So we are hoping she will survive”, he told us everything in one go. He wasn’t complaining or angry with us because we lied to him, or because we were sticking around. Probably he was too preoccupied to be angry with us. Rohan and I were feeling a bit uncomfortable. His mellow sadness flowed from his eyes to ours through the glass door.
“Can we see her, uncle?”
“Sure beta. Just stay here while I ask Rajini to open the curtains”, he said to us and moved back inside.
I could see him telling his wife to slide the curtains so that we could see her daughter. She slid the curtains. A little girl in yellow dress was standing in her bed. She was jumping on it as she watched cartoons. Uncle moved to us again and said, “Only her mother is allowed to be with her. Even I can go just till the last door. They don’t allow me to enter the room.” She was still jumping and her mom pointed us to her. She turned to us and started waving her hand. She was saying something but we could not hear her. Her dad smiled back and waved. Rohan and I were perplexed and stood still as if we were frozen.
“How old is her elder sister?”
“She is thirteen. Doctors will be taking some bone marrow from her body.”
I actually never asked him the latter part; it just showed me how disturbed he was. But he never showed. He smiled fully and looked normal. Rohan and I were in sweat. The air conditioner was so perfect there, unlike in Rohan’s car - The all-angle-dented-Grey Santro, but still we were feeling restless and choked. The girl had blood cancer, was in captivity and would probably die. Reoccurred cancer is rarely treated perfectly again. Yet she was happy and nothing was stopping her from jumping in her bed. She was happy and she could show world that she was.
“Please give me way”, said uncle as he moved out of the glass door we were standing next to. He was carrying a toy set which had replicas of a doctor’s instrument.
“They didn’t allow her toys also. Now I am going to the sterilization facility to treat them. They will allow then.”
This was too much for us. It’s so sarcastic. She wanted to play with those toys. She would probably die in front of a doctor!
I couldn’t take it anymore. Rohan shook a bit as he suppressed his sob. We saw uncle move away from us and we looked at the girl for one last time.
“Let us get out of here.”
We went back to our car. This time we used the subway of course. We saw Ankita and Sakshi standing there.
“Where the fu*k have you both been?”
“Sakshi just get in and no f-words for next 20 minutes.”
We all got in the car and drove away.
PS : I hope that girl survives. I did love to see her grow older and never be in hospital again.