This story revolves around the days of Soumya as a junior resident doctor where his friend Shiv Kumar was the reason of a mistaken identity. Read this hilarious story and find out what happens at the end.
By Dr Saumya Shankar Choudhury | Illustration by Sid Ghosh
“U imbecile moron!” Dr Ganguly was shouting at me. This was followed by expletives I had never heard in my life. I was the second assistant in a Gall bladder surgery. This was an open surgery and I was to retract a few important organs properly so that the main surgeon Dr Ganguly could remove the gall bladder without any glitch. He was a good surgeon who started the surgery with cuss words, mumbled expletives all along and finished off by threatening to stall the careers of good for nothing hapless souls like me.
Shiv Kumar who was my co resident in the unit was to later tell him that Imbecile and Moron are two of the gentlest words with the same meanings. And life in Delhi was all about expletives. In the evenings Dr Ganguly resembled a Happy Prince as he would treat us to unlimited rounds of drinks at the Civil Services Officers Institute, a few blocks from the renowned hospital in Central Delhi where we slogged day and night with almost no rest.
Needless to say, the tab for the drinks had to be picked up by the members of the surgery unit collectively as he would not be in the best of states to pay upfront, with myself and Shiv Kumar driving him to his Pandara Road Residence on almost all evenings. Shiv Kumar was still nursing a dog bite wound in his posterior which he was rewarded with from a chasing ROADESIAN as we returned walking one late night after tucking up the great surgeon in his bed.
We didn’t have any vehicle at that time and the walk in the desolate street meant we were left at the mercy of the local canine goons in the area. Shiv Kumar decided that if he gently talked to them they would go away but it was not to happen. He showed his back to them in a new found way to detract them and one of the leaders of the pack dug is unflattering canines in the cheap terylene trousers taking a small part of it with some skin and tissue.
One of those evenings was different when a ‘full of gratitude ‘Dr Ganguly was kind enough to excuse us from half day duty sometime in the coming week. At the very mention of the leave, I had mentally made plans to catch the lesser priced morning show of the latest blockbuster in Chanakya. Dr Ganguly mumbled that he had an errand for us. Once we took him to his bedroom with the ramblings of his wife in the background, although in drunken and slurred speech, we clearly heard him mentioning we needed to take his daughter to the hospital in Moti Bagh the following morning. I asked why not the hospital we worked to which he barked at us in a language which was later made famous in “Gangs of Wasseypur” and subsequent flicks by gentlemen like Anurag Kashyap and Tigmangshu Dhulia.
Nevertheless, we agreed and arrived at his residence the following morning before time .The local canines were not to be found and we had hired an Auto-rickshaw right up to the driveway of his sprawling government bungalow. His pretty daughter greeted us and we were asked to wait for a couple of minutes. She would drive the car which we often drove to drop the famed surgeon in most evenings. The chivalrous knight without armour in me offered to drive to which she just laughed and walked away. She led us to the car and asked me to sit in the back with Shiv Kumar.
We waited in the stifling heat in the Maruti 800 as a servant followed her carrying a sick looking Labrador. She gently placed her between me and Shiv Kumar in the back seat. Shiv Kumar was salivating more than the poor dog. I had a Spitz back home who was brought up very gently and who never barked at strangers. The Spitz would sleep between me and my brother at night, let out sighs and snores from time to time and bare his teeth at the family members whilst wagging its tail timidly at any intruder or stranger.
But a Labrador was a different cup of tea. All along the drive, the pretty daughter of Dr Ganguly regaled us with anecdotes of how good her ‘sister’ was. She was not eating properly and vomiting all the time. Shiv Kumar sat like a bust of a famous political figure waiting to be installed in the town square and greeted with bird droppings. He refused to breathe lest the halitosis would trouble the giant Labrador aligned in the back seat between us. We didn’t touch her at all even as junior Miss Ganguly continued with her exultations, getting emotional at the end of the tale and removing a strand of hair from her sweaty face.
On other days, love ballads would have come to my mind but the sick animal who was obviously smelling of a nauseating concoction of urine, faeces and blood kicked out the last traces of Cupid in me. We entered the parking lot in the Animal Hospital in Moti Bagh which explained a few of Dr Ganguly’s instructions the previous evening.
I longed to go back to the air conditioned operating theatre with Dr Ganguly lovingly calling me all the names in the world. To make matters worse I was entrusted upon the dreadful task of caring Preeti, the Labrador. For the first time in my life I had the coveted opportunity of carrying a lady. Almost short of breath I managed to place her on the vet’s table who immediately started to examine her. He rattled of instructions and wrote a couple of injections in a piece of paper.
Shiv kumar resembled a ghost of Einstein beside me. He couldn’t believe we had taken a dog to a hospital. I was sent on errand to purchase the injections. I cursed under my breath all along maintaining a jovial demeanour. As I walked across the adjoining tables to the pharmacy counter and back I was barked at by a poodle, a couple of Dalmatians, a Daschhund, a common mongrel, an Alsatian who looked like Dog Detective Ranjha from Tinkle, a Great Dane, a Fox Terrier, a Saint Bernard and a couple of cross breeds. They yelped ferociously as the vet gave me a stern look and it was accompanied by hostile stares from the owners and other patrons present in the huge room with rows and rows of tables for treatment of the sick animals, most of whom looked overfed, spoilt and unhealthy and had come to get nutritional advice or vaccinations.
The vet asked me to hold the labrador from the backside as little Miss Ganguly started to cuddle and pacify her from the front. Shiv Kumar , in a trance was hovering around me. The young Miss Ganguly was looking at him in an admonishing way and twitching her nostrils as after the canine bite the previous week, out of fear of hydrophobia, Shiv Kumar had prophylactically deferred his ablutions. I held the sick labrador gently but firmly as the vet tried to administer the injection near the hind leg.
He was standing between Shiv Kumar and me and he administered it perfectly. But just as he withdrew the huge needle, Preeti, the gentle Labrador gave a violent jerk and the needle somehow stuck the very place where a canine had bitten Shiv Kumar a week ago. Shiv Kumar yelped and barked. No he only yelped and the shout emanating from his throat quitened the other fifteen odd canines in the hall. The vet reassured him saying he just needed a tetanus shot as Preeti was vaccinated against all evils.
Next he withdrew blood and put it in two vials marked with some codes and asked us to get it tested in a lab and show him the reports. He patted the dog and returned to his other patients. Miss Ganguly asked me to carry him to the car. She turned towards Shiv Kumar and gave him the vials and asked him to deposit in Dr Pals Path Lab near Bangla Sahib.
After dropping the ‘sisters’ at their residence, I left the house without much of a thank you from the elder ‘daughter, although the dog did give me a sad look. That was the last time I met any of the Gangulys.
It was a few weeks later when Shiv Kumar and myself managed to get another job. I had asked him a few times what made Dr Ganguly so violent the other day that led him to be suspended first and myself followed him when I went to plead his case in front of a seething and teething Dr Ganguly. I was sad and angry at the same time. Even Miss Ganguly, who had become so pally pally with me in particular had blocked my number and had called me a buffoon.
Shiv Kumar just laughed whenever I tried to bring up the subject. I couldn’t take it any longer. So one Sunday afternoon, as we both had a rare off day, armed with his favourite brand of desi or country liquor, I marched into his zoo enclosure like room and after a few drinks he mumbled a few words. What he said could be summed up in the following paragraph.
As I left with the Ganguly daughters, Shiv Kumar took an autorickshaw and deposited the sample in Dr Pal’s lab in Bangla Sahib. In the deposit slip he had to mention the name of the patient. He knew that the labrabor’s name was Preeti. So he wrote P Ganguly. Dr Ganguly had specifically asked him to give his phone number as well as the lab was known to him.
While entering the phone number and the referring doctor, everything was printed as DR P Ganguly, including the patient’s name, probably as the software had all details connected to the phone number. The lab owner was going through the liver and kidney function tests from the sample and was alarmed to find it elevated 20 times the normal. Dr Ganguly was in The OT and couldn’t take calls as his phone was switched off.
The lab owner called Dr Chaturvedi to tell him that his top surgeon was dying. The Medical superintendent was aware that Dr Ganguly had a drinking problem and had a host of comorbidities. He simply couldn’t keep on making that man work. As a responsible administrator, he immediately issued an order to relieve Dr Ganguly of all his surgeries and other duties till his enzymes and other parameters came to the baseline. Dr Ganguly had to take medical leave and needless to say, in the events that unfolded, we had to be leave permanently.
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Dr. Chowdhury is an avid writer, who in his professional life is a medico for the past 20 years, currently with a Central government Public Sector Undertaking. His first anthology of short stories, Barak To Doyang, was published by the National Library, Guwahati, in 2012. Besides writing, he has a keen interest in music.