Understandably the patients who gather in a doctor’s waiting room do not talk with each other, preferring to keep their health issues close to their chest. It was not so during the good old days, when things were freely discussed with camaraderie in an animated tone.
As a veteran who had spent a good portion of life cooling my heels in the clinics of diabetologists, urologists, neurologists, cardiologists to enumerate a few with the gist-suffix, I have made an in-depth study of the behavioural pattern of patients who wait. I may in due course start writing a book, with the working title, ‘Patience also cures’.
The elderly gentleman coughed twice—a patient’s signature tune the world over. He collected a token and sat next to me, clutching a file, comprising a pad with two flaps marked ordinary and urgent secured by a red tape.
He flashed a bright smile, displaying a set of porcelain white teeth, a precursor for a casual chat with me. “Did you see these charts? The foods a diabetic can eat and the ones he should not touch. You may be surprised I eat almost all of them, the taboo ones, that is.” I was bewildered. “You mean you take, sugar, butter, milk, cream, cheese and such white goods?” I asked with disbelief.
“You have omitted cakes, eggless that is, kulfis, rosogollas, sandesh, and other lovelies Sonar Bangla had concocted. Not that I give the cold shoulder to laddus, coconut burfis, mysorepak. And ice creams. All are welcome.”
‘Jealousy is recognised as the tribute mediocrity pays to genius.’ I looked at him with admiration, even horror, as to how a person waiting for his call from the diabetologist can gourmandise all the taboo items captured on the chart on the wall. He did not have any visible sign of a diabetic of sporting ‘a lean and hungry look’, a Shakespearean coinage. He continued with unabated zeal. “I walk for one hour in the morning, even when it pours, taking an umbrella. Do Patanjali yoga. Drink the mandatory three litres of water. Enjoy a full plate of Madras meals, including repeat servings of vegetables like bitter gourd, gooseberry and such.”
Two things happened simultaneously and cut him short. The receptionist called out the token number 18 and a young man hurriedly entered the clinic. He whispered to me: “Here is my grandson Surya just in time to see the doctor. Like many techies he is a workaholic, hypertensive, diabetic, gloomy and edgy. I was sitting here as his proxy.” He raised his voice. “Come Surya. We can straightaway go in. See you, sir.”
J S Raghavan. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org