Sunday, November 22, 2015

Grow Up? Say Whaaaat?


“You”.

Manish appeared startled when Dr. Mohan pointed at him during morning rounds at the hospital.

“Yes, you”.

In general, he had a tendency to fumble, and now, with Dr. Mohan’s vision (rumored to have the capacity to pierce through giant icebergs) focused directly on him, I completely sympathized with him for looking lost, confused, and terrified, all at the same time.

I also didn’t find fault with him for dropping his pen, for nearly falling on the floor when he stooped down to pick it up and for slamming his head on the patients bed when he straightened himself.

Dr. Mohan was a force to reckon with, if being chief of medicine in a busy hospital of the city wasn’t enough, his towering 6’4’’ height and powerful voice was more than the necessary dosage required to surprise, nay, frighten a freshly graduated doctor from medical school.
Imagine the same scenario above, but with a lot more people, A LOT MORE! :-)

“What is Courvoisier’s law”?

“Sir, Um, Umm…” Manish replied, struggling to string together words that made sense.

“Um”? Dr Mohan asked in the same powerful voice, his eyebrows propped up this time, which only served to increase the tension in the room.

“Sir, Um…” Manish said again.

“Yes, you said that already Dr.Manish”.

“Sir, the gall bladder”. Manish said turning his hands around in the air trying to depict the shape of the structure in the body.

“The gall bladder dances”? Dr Mohan asked him, imitating Manish’s hand movement.

He exaggerated it to make it appear as though he was performing a traditional folk dance popular in India.

“ Dr.Thomas, do you know what it is, or are you going to teach us another step of this dance form that Manish seems to have mastered”? He asked me, turning his powerful gaze in my direction.

Unlike Manish who was new to the hospital, I had been working in the hospital for 6 months now.

There was no need for me to freak out.

“Sir”, I said, taking a moment to think. This was mainly because I was trying hard to avoid saying “Um” like Manish was doing.

“Sir, the gall bladder.”

“Yes, yes, the gall bladder”. Dr Mohan said, the annoyance in his voice increasing as he spoke.

“Sir, the gall bladder”. I said again, this time inadvertently repeating the same damned hand movement that Manish had done earlier.

“Ah”, Dr.Mohan groaned.

“Why don’t the two of you start a dance studio and call it ‘Man-mas dance classes for nitwits’, I can think of a 100 people from just the top of my head, including my son, who would love to join.

Everyone in the vicinity without a hearing problem laughed out loud.

"Tell me about it tomorrow" He said.

"About the dance studio sir"? Manish enquired.

"No you idiot, Courvoisier’s law". Dr. Mohan said shaking his head and storming out of the ward in his signature fashion, which involved throwing his disposable mask and head cap accurately into the trash can almost 25 feet away like a seasoned basketball player.

All of us including the nurses had tried achieving this feat several times in the past, none of us could get it right, in fact we had often tried to place the dustbin farther away from its original position to see if he could still make it, but that didn’t make much of a difference, Dr. Mohan never missed his target.

Manish and I both knew what Courvoisier’s law was, we had been repeating it ever since we heard of it in our second year at med school.
In case you were wondering.
The problem was that whenever we were faced by Dr. Mohan, we would suffer from acute episodes of the famed 'tongue tie', our jaws would automatically get locked, and our brains would either shut down completely, or go into overdrive.

None of this changed the fact that he was one of the most brilliant doctors we had ever come across, and even though he was in charge of over 40 patients on average, every single day, we never saw him lose his cool, get angry with a patient or misdiagnose an illness.

“Man-mas dance studio sounds like a good name, doesn’t it?” Manish said as we headed out for lunch the same afternoon.

“It’s like man and mass together” He said putting up both words in the air and holding them together as he spoke.

“Are you sure you didn’t suffer a head injury this morning?” I asked , unable to believe that he was actually considering the option of the 2 of us starting a dance studio.

“Have you ever wondered what helps Dr. Mohan stay so cool all the time”? I asked him trying to change the topic.

“I think about it often, I’ve heard he has a big family too”. He replied.

“Maybe it has something to do with that half an hour break he takes everyday”. I said

“Nobody knows what he does, in that time” He replied.

“There are rumours you know” Manish Said.

“Ya, he is probably just getting some well deserved sleep in his room during those breaks”.

“No way, People have heard him laugh from within the room”.

“Which people I asked him”.

“I can’t tell you”.

“Why?”

“Because I can’t”

“Yes you can”.

“No I won’t”.

“Yes you will”.

“Over my dead body”.

“Why”?

“Because…..”

“Because, what?”

“Because,I promised Nurse Mini I wouldn’t tell anyone”.

“Oh damn”!!! He exclaimed, realizing he has just revealed something he was hoping to keep secret till his death.

“Nurse Mini you say? She wouldn’t say that unless it was true”. I said sounding convinced.

“You want to go check on Dr. Mohan”? Manish asked me.

“No, I’d rather start a dance studio”. I replied.

“Common, it’s his usual break time, atleast we can confirm if what Mini was telling the truth”.

I reluctantly agreed.

We went back upstairs to the doctor’s lounge.

Dr. Mohans room was closed as usual.

Manish sneaked up to his door and beckoned to me to follow.

I stayed at a safe distance keeping watch.

With every passing second, the dance studio idea was seeming to make so much more sense to me.

He couldn’t shout so he mouthed the words without saying them.

I didn’t have to be a trained lip reader to understand what he was trying to say.

“You have to listen to this, come here”.

“Mini was right, he is laughing hysterically”.

I shook my head vigorously, saying no repeatedly.

Manish continued to mouth the same old words, adding an ‘I will kill you’ to try to convince me.


As his frustration grew he started waving his hands wildly.
Manish was so excited that he couldn’t notice what was happening right behind him.

But I saw it clear as day.

The door knob was turning.

Dr.Mohan was just about to emerge from inside.

I tried my best to tell him what was going on.

But he didn’t relent.

I turned my hand so as to mimic the motion of the turning knob, but instead of being alerted by my actions, Manish conveniently thought I was repeating the gall bladder dance.

He too started turning both his hands to mock my actions; for added effect he shrugged his shoulders rhythmically and pranced on his feet.

For some reason I didn’t stop doing the gall bladder dance either. Maybe I was too terrified to get a grip on the situation.

I watched in horror as Manish danced in full swing, completely unaware of the fact that Dr. Mohan was standing right behind him.

Both of us froze when he gently tapped his shoulder.

He reached for his wallet, fished out a crisp hundred rupee note and handed it to Manish.

“Nice performance, keep it up”. He said before walking away from us.

Manish’s hands were ice cold when I walked up to him and took the note.

“Why didn’t you tell me he was standing behind me Man” He screamed when he came to his senses.

"I tried you idiot, but you started mocking me".

“Oh man! What do we do now”. Manish said sounding anxious.

“I don’t know. I’m hungry”. I replied

“How could you have an appetite after this incident”?

“We can use that money to buy something good you know". I said showing  him the bill Dr. Mohan had given him.

“Haha, very funny". He said turning around for a second to look at the door”.

“What the…” he stopped short.

“Do you see what I see”?

“What”?

“He left the door open”. He said pointing at the door which was still slightly ajar.

“Yeah so what, let’s leave”.

“No way, I’m going in”.

“You must have some kind of concussion Manish” I said trying to sound angry.

He walked into the room, completely ignoring my words.

“Oh my God” I heard him exclaim.

I followed him inside.

I couldn’t believe what my eyes were seeing either.

“Dr. Mohan’s  laptop was on, and what he was watching surprised me greatly”.

Tom and Jerry!!!!!

So, this is what he does to unwind Manish said as I dragged him out of the room.

In the cafeteria we both stared at our food without talking much to each other.

"Tom and Jerry", Manish said breaking the silence.

“Who would’ve guessed”? I said, shaking my head in disbelief.

“You should’ve heard him laugh; it was a lot like my 7 year old nephew”. Manish said.

“He seems to be all softy soft on the inside, like an overgrown child". I replied.

“Ya, that's what it looks like".

“What are you doing this weekend’? I asked him.

“I’m going with my mother to the mall, to buy some clothes”.

“You can’t buy them yourself?”.

“I can, but mommy is better at it than me”. Manish replied with a sheepish smile.

“Dr. Mohan is not the only kid in the department” I said staring back at the 23 year old man who regressed into a 5 year old child at the mention of his mother.

I couldn’t resist laughing at the thought of Manish strolling through the mall with his mother helping him pick up his clothes.
Grow up!

Stop acting like a little baby!

These are lines all of us have heard at some point of time or the other, and yes, growing up is an important part of life, but I have always held that it is equally important to keep the child inside us alive.

My experience that day with Dr. Mohan only served to help me strengthen that belief.

The fact that he relied on reliving some moments of his childhood by watching a beloved cartoon show to rejuvenate his energy and composure, was enough for me to realize how indulging in a little childish behavior from time to time can be the saving grace we all need to deal with the many problems that adulthood brings along with it.

Inside out was one of the best movies that came out this year.
Like all pixar films, this one too was insightful, original, heartwarming and ingenious.

While I hope someday to write an entire post dedicated to the film, the one thing I want to use from the story here is how the lead character in the movie, Riley, starts losing her love for some of the most precious parts of her memories as she starts the transition from being a child to a teenager.

As a third person watching the film, a large part of me was going, "No Riley,no, don't allow that happen, don't allow the world to do that to you".

Childhood is a phase of life characterized by quiet trust, a sense of wonder,innocence and love for the simple things.

But as we grow older, a lot of these positive feelings begin to diminish, sometimes, they lose their meaning altogether,or worse still, they get replaced by fear and insecurity, till ultimately we arrive at a point in our life where we stare at ourselves in the mirror and wonder how far we've come and how much we've changed along the way.

But if you haven't allowed the world to take away the child in you, the fearless, funny, trusting and loving version of you that only a few if not none have seen before, don't hesitate to, take a trip down memory lane every now and then. Dance in the rain, make a splash in the puddles of water left behind, watch your favorite cartoon show, or like me, go down to the supermarket and pull down every box in the cereal aisle till you decide what you want to buy, carry the box with both your hands holding it close to your chest, and change your mind at the billing counter. ;-)

Trust me, doing something to reminisce your childhood will only serve to make the challenges of being an adult seem far less daunting.

My hope for you, this childrens day, is that you are somehow, in some way, holding on to the child inside you. 

Until next time

TGV