Dad was in the hospital again. Another surgery, a minor one. As usual I was there to give him company. We shared a room with this other couple. Guy was being operated, his wifey was telling the world about it. That’s where the fun began.
She continued talking to the lady called Mamta while moving to the other end of the room. I noticed she had left the door ajar. Amongst other things she spoke about, included her husband’s operation just getting done, about the room being congested, about me – that I was working from the room, that I may be a relative of the patient, that I was too healthy to be a patient but one never knows. Wow!
In a while, I knew all about how her Gujju husband complained of unbearable pain, which she thought was him having a bad hangover. I ignored my father whom they wheeled in all groggy, as the lady continued yapping about how she had guessed hubby was ill. Not by conducting any medical checks. He called her by her pet name, asked to take him to the hospital while telling her to take care of his paralysed father in any eventuality. And finally she was sure was when he told her that his cheque book was in the bottom third drawer!
Suddenky sh cut shot the conversation and left the room. I eyed my dad. He was still asleep. My entertainment for the evening cut short.
Till she returned with her husband.
Dad was up, hale and hearty – no pain or other usual post op complains. That was a good sign. On the other side was Gujju man whose op was successful. The thing was unlike dad, he was wheeled into the room awake & bristling. And from the time he came in, there was just sheer entertainment.
A case in point from a conversation he had with the nurse
G – Nurse doctor told me to walk after checking my pressure.
N – I did check sir, its normal.
G – That was half an hour ago. What about now?
The nurse checked the pressure. Normal. Another nurse was in my room to check on my dad. As she was about to leave, Gujju guy insisted she remove the catheter as it wasn’t placed properly. Leaving them no choice they proceeded to do that when he complained that it was hurting, were they new at the job, was it safe to remove it?! As the nurses exchanged glances his wifey called house-keeping, not by using the calling bell, but by opening the room door and shouting. Through the ruckus dad to opened his eyes, he saw me & smiled.
Thank you, Mrs and Mr Gujju.
From that moment on, dad and me were entertained by the couple who carried on as if they were in their house. Housekeeping turned into their personal valet service – asking for all sorts of things – WIFI passwords, new mobile charging points, extra pillows, bed covers. When their demands were mostly met, they had loud debates at 10 in the night about their demands not being met! A Malayalee nurse happened to come in to check & she was forced to ask them to pipe down. To their credit, they did.
Another interesting situation happened next morning. I woke up to chatter in the background. My dad and gujju guy chatting –
G – you said your age is 82 sir?
Dad – (smiles) Yes.
G – and you have no pain at all after the operation.
Dad – no, not really.
G (sighs) you make me feel old sir
Dad smiles some more.
G – you make me feel ashamed!
That woke me up. I looked around, Gujju’s wife was missing, the wall clock showed time as 5.30. Gujju was staring into the ceiling, dad was smiling at the same ceiling. I shut my eyes again & tried to sleep.
Not for long as the staff came in to give the patients a sponge bath. I woke up & cleared out. When I was back, they had taken the Gujju out for a walk. Only the wife was in the room busy having a conversation with dad. This time she smiled at me. Now the room felt friendly as the small talk continued.
Till the soup was brought into the room.
Kiskeliye – for whom? she asked the housekeeping guy.
405 – he saw the tag and spoke. 405 was our bed.
In a minute after that, she had transformed the confident 20-year-old into a quivering, stammering mass of jelly who didn’t know why her husband had not got his morning soup like us. She retrieved what seemed her favourite weapon, her mobile phone and started making calls. This had the boy sweating & he ran out while she continued extolling about the great injustice meted out by the hospital to her husband. In 5 minutes, the boy reappeared with a bowl of soup. Which she checked, said wasn’t hot enough and had him heat it. Twice!
Then came in the Gujju guy, looked at the tray before his bed.
Soup, his wife said proudly.
But the doctor has told I cannot have soup or anything hot for two days! Are they trying to kill me?
My dad almost choked on his soup. The wife quietly left the room as the Gujju rang the bell to give hell to the nurses. I kept going to the loo to laugh my head off!!
Through the day, the wife would keep calling Mamta & talking in Gujrati about different things. She spoke about how we were getting a discharge today, that she missed her home food, that the hospital has Jain food but she has her doubts if it’s really Jain food – that they may have to be here another day.
After a while I got busy settling the bills & getting all our stuff together. The gujju guy would chat up with dad smiling and laughing till the minute a nurse or house-keeping staff walked in. Then he would be his grumpy self-complaining about something or the other.
Finally, we were ready to get out. We said our goodbyes to the man. He wished us luck at the same time told the house-keeping how the bed-sheet was too coarse which were giving him bed sores. In walked his wife with the mobile attached to her ear. She saw us with bags, asked Mamta to hold their conversation, looked at us –
The colour drained from her face, speechless at my flawless Gujrati words as I said See you soon. She smiled, left the room in a hurry to share the same info with Mamta.