Saturday, January 22, 2011

One Hundred



Rov moves out of fiction. The following is a real life narrative about something very recent.


…Rov looked up at the night sky. The horizon was streaked with a tawny hue that was refusing to fade, and that was a reflection of the hot day that was! The warmth was still lingering on. At 12 midnight, Rov was 10 miles from reaching the safe abode of his home. On either side of the highway, there were expanses of uncultivated fields that were devoid of human habitation…

The engine of his car was still humming as he relaxed on the bonnet. Kristen sat there beside him and half-turned towards him, she let go a smile…

At this point, I strongly feel like playing the role of this character Rov myself, in the sequences described henceforth and as such I will refer to “Rov” as “I” and “he” as “me” and so on, in the rest of the narrative.


It was really beginning to get to me!

Day One: Tuesday.
Morning rounds were followed by OPD hours till 3 PM. By that time, there is no food in my hostel. I ate outside. Evening rounds were from 6 PM and then I had casualty night duty till 8 AM next morning.

Day Two: Wednesday.
The day was spent in Urology O.T till 2 PM. I indulged in casualty night duty once more as a replacement for a fellow first year till 8 AM next morning.

Day Three: Thursday.
By 9:00 AM, I was in the Urology O.T.  At 2 PM, it was lunchtime.
As I put the last vestige of food in my mouth, my phone rang! I learned that it was an emergency call from Unit III. My senior, Rajoo was in need of someone to prepare a case of duodenal perforation for O.T. I immediately translocated myself to the Unit III. At 5 PM, I was doing my first DU perforation case. I was elated. But, that feeling was diluted by the knowledge that ward night duty was to start in a few minutes time. I gobbled up food  in a restaurant and when I was in the middle of it, my Unit IV seniors, Daboo and Akram, rang me up to tell me to prepare two cases of splenic injury for O.T. in the night. The first case was operated from 10 P.M. to 12 midnight. The second case went on till 3 in the morning.

I was busy with retractors and suction device all the time. I came out of O.T. at 3: 30 AM.  And lot of pending work awaited me in the ward to keep me busy till the end of duty hours.

Day 4: Friday.
At 10:00 AM, I was attending to patients in the Urology OPD and that continued till 2 PM.
Just before the stroke of two in the clock, my Unit IV seniors, Daboo and Akram, rang me up to tell me to prepare two more cases for emergency O.T.
The 2nd case was over by 8 PM.
At 9 PM, I was in Unit V station doing ward night duty till 8 AM next morning.

Day 5: Saturday.
I was in the urology seminar room at 8:45 AM and that was fifteen minutes late!
I remained part of the audience till the end at 11 AM. Lunch was served in the ward itself at 12:30 PM. It may have tasted really delicious with a variety of non-vegetarian items, but to me, it was like some edible stuff I only had to get through.

It was at 1 PM that I felt uncontrollably homesick. I just wanted one thing at that time and that was a long, peaceful sleep! I really longed for resting my head in my mom’s lap. It already felt like one dying wish!

I sought permission for leave for one day so that I could go home. But, I was denied that because I was supposed to be doing a replacement duty for one of the senior residents that evening and I was reminded that I had night duty in the urology ward every Sunday. It took a lot of coaxing by the team of senior residents to make me agree to do that evening duty. I cannot express the sinking feeling in me at that moment.

After a few hours rest, I came to the wards at 6 PM. At 7 PM, I got a call from home and when I heard my mom’s voice at the other end of it; I steeled myself and made the final decision. Come what may, I was going home!!


I was restively killing my time in the library of the urology department. At 8 PM, I closed the fat volume of Schwartz’s surgery with an authoritative thump and got up. I made up my mind that come hell or high water, nobody could stop me from reaching home and the time to start moving was that very moment! I took my stethoscope and put it in my Diesel bag, the other contents of which were- a dirty apron,  “2 States”  by Chetan Bhagat, a 2L bottle containing water upto a quarter of its capacity, a few tablets, mostly rabeprazole, a headphone, sheets of notes- some academic but mostly random scribbling on real life subject matters.

When I reached the entrance of my hostel, I heard the vroom of a motorcycle in the corridors approaching me. The biker was Debo of Unit I. That was fortunate event number one. I rode pillion on his bike to Bhangagarh city bus stand. I bade him goodbye and then waited for city buses that would carry me to Jalukbari. Only two city buses went through that way in a matter of ten minutes and none of them to my preferred destination. I understood that I hadn’t much of a choice. So I boarded the next one at 8:20 PM and that vehicle took me only to Paltanbazar Nepali Mandir. From there, to Panbazar “Pani Tanki” city bus stand, I ran like a long distance sprinter. I clocked it at fourteen minutes!! And then I waited again. This time, no city buses came by. So I had to board the backside of a tempo and that thing took me to Bhalarumukh. A group of stinking manual labourers shared that ride with me and they were singing popular bollywood songs from the 90s.


I found the ride a distasteful experience and formed the opinion that I had enough! I called up my dad as soon as I de-boarded!!
“Dad! Can you send one of the cars? I am stuck here in Bharalu. I am planning to come home…”
There was a 20 seconds silence at the other end of the line following my declaration. I re-checked the call status of my phone, shook it twice and then put it back to my ear to hear something that sounded like scolding.
“What!! At this hour?! Why didn’t you tell me earlier?”
I replied in a weak voice. “I thought I could manage”
A lot of other things were said that cost me two to three minutes of talk time balance and at the end of it, I heard the thing I knew I would hear.
“You wait there. I am sending Ali. He will call you when he reaches there”.


At 9:20 PM, I was thus strolling to and fro at Bharalumukh, opposite to a police station! My movements were interrupted when a girl came up to me, holding a heavy airbag with both of her hands, and she spoke to me.
“Where are you going?”
“To Mangaldai. You going anywhere?”
Rather than replying to my question, she opened up her mouth to form a big “O” and then bit her tongue. I could only surmise that she was inwardly deliberating on something. Then, as if throwing the dice, she blurted out.
“Yes. I am not much of a liar and certainly I don’t say silly jokes at this hour to some stranger…”
She smiled, may be because she thought it was a profitable thing to do so.
“Your dad is coming to get you?”
I jerked my head and made subtle movements of my eyes, forehead, and shoulders and tried to refocus on the girl who stood before me, buying time to understand how on earth she could possibly know.
“How do you know?”
“I overheard what you were saying on phone”
That thing probably explained it and many more things.
“Not my dad, but our driver is coming to pick me up”
“Could I ask for a lift? Please…”
I expected her to ask that question but she did it a little bit pre-maturely and so I answered with a guarded tone.
“Really? I can’t say no but what are you doing here at this hour?”
“I came from Delhi today evening by plane, came here to stay at my aunt’s home but I learnt that she has gone to her husband’s place. I had a friend here in Bharalu but unfortunately her family has also gone somewhere. No other place to stay. I came here to take an auto to any nearby good hotel…”
“That’s tragic! You can come with me if you like though I still don’t know where to! What do you do in Delhi?”
“I am doing a fashion designing course in NIFT, Hauz Khas”
“Really? Hauz Khas is really a hi-fi locality. You stay there?”
“I stay in Gautam Nagar”
“Oh! Then there is some possibility that I may have seen you some day!”
“So, how is that?”
“I stayed there for 2 months in a Punjabi household with two of my friends”
“Why were you there?”
“That’s one question a lot of people ask me and I also ask myself!”
“Why is that?”
“Which one to answer?”
“Whether I should answer why I was there or why people ask me why I was there?”
“Both, if you please”
“Firstly, the part concerning why I was there”
“I am all ears!”
“Just after PG entrance examination…”
I could see a questioning look in her face.
“…I almost thought you also knew that I am a soon-to-become-surgeon”
“You, a medico? Which semester?”
“Semester! I told you I am almost a surgeon!”
“Which means?”
“I completed all semesters for your knowledge”
“You already MBBS?”
“Yeah! Are you slow?”
“No! I am not! Actually, you don’t know how to talk!”
“Is that a rebuke?”
“You should not think so…constructive criticism”
“So you are the constructive kind?”
“Which is supposed to mean?”
“You like to direct how others should be according to you? Thus construct lives that are lived the way they should be!”
“You are really shifting the topic to abstract grounds! Are you stable in your mind?”
“Right now I am stable enough to know that you are you and I am me!”
“Then, I think you should go back to what you were telling about your questionable existence in Delhi!”
“Ok…you win!”
“Win what?”
“Never mind!”
“I was telling that as soon as the results of the postgraduate entrance examination were declared…”
“So, you are a postgraduate in Surgery. MS. Right?”
“Awesome! A tour-de-force!”
“Is it like embarrassing me?”
“Nopes! I can’t do that”
“Because I can’t. Is it so necessary for you to put a ‘why’ everywhere?”
“Man, you are making me like you to dislike you!”
“Isn’t that abstract?”
She smirked at me. I could only laugh…
“Will you at all listen to what I have to say or is it that you could not be less interested?”
“I have no choice. You are the best available option. At least, you are not drunk!”
“Actually at this hour, I am a comfort to you”
“Really chivalrous! I am aware of it only now!”
“Is it like you are used to a lot of boys liking you?”
“Yeah! Is it sad that you are not one of them?”
“That part, I would have liked it if you would have known better. Frankly, it is not a sad thing!”
“Then everything is well, I suppose. We may continue with your story”
“Do you really want to hear it?”
“Yes! I want to hear only that”
“May I say that you have excited enough resentment responsible for killing my spirit about telling you that?”
“Oh! Come on! I thought you were a sport when it comes to wordplay!”
“How do you know so much about me?”
“You are only imagining things!”
I was suddenly disconcerted with that remark. I jerked my head a couple of times, opened my tired eyes widely and then shut them tightly and repeated that maneuvre a few more times, rubbed my face and shrugged my shoulders, and tried to re-focus on the girl in front of me. No! I was not imagining things!

She was there standing with her hands on her hips and with a benevolent smile in her countenance possibly amused by my comical behaviour. She was expectantly waiting for me to speak the next words.

“I haven’t asked your name yet!”
“Kristen? Is it real?”
“Does it matter?”
“My name is Rov and it is real and it would matter to you that it is real because you would not like to be with someone at this hour who is telling you a wrong name!”
“That’s a fine case you have put forward. Kristen is my real name
I remarked more to myself than to her, “Really uncanny”.
And then I was scratching the hairs on the back of my head and then rubbing my chin. These movements took up quite some time but Kristen did not seem to mind that I was considering her for all that time. She even did not mind the last two words that slipped out of my mouth, may be because she did not hear them or probably, as I would like to believe it, she did not understand them for being more of the kind of  mumbling.

“I was saying that when the results of PG entrance examination were declared in February last year, everyone of our batch was going somewhere, doing something or the other thing. My two best friends, Zeet and Pal, were moving out to Delhi and instead of feeling over the moon because I cleared it the first time itself, I felt like my own effigy with ‘indecision’ plastered from above down. When, a week later, Zeet and Pal were packing their luggage bags with books, I also followed their example. After being almost six years with them, I could not all so suddenly bear to be left alone and so I also boarded the plane to New Delhi along with them. While they were going with the objective to rack their brains to crack the Examination the next year, I was going along with them to shake off my fears of monotonous existence”

“So that tells me why you were there. Now the next question was why do people always ask you why you were there?”

“That is because people don’t know me. They don’t know that I am impulsive, capricious, and reckless and like some product of uncertainty principle, and a phobic to wearisomeness, an addict to whimsical speculations and fascinations in a constant search of an egress into my own dream world…”
“Are you freaking out?”
“I mean, are you already in your dream world?”
“Why do you ask?”
“It seems like you are consumed with the conflict of so many emotions right now and that is a cause of anxiety to me because I fear it to be a contagious thing!”
“Contagious? Like contamination? You calling me a vector?”
“Definitely no!”
“That’s good! Let me ask you something else. How long have you been in Delhi?”
“Two years”
“That means you have been eating North Indian food for two years now! Must have been a terrible pain to your stomach!”
“Because I could not tolerate the punishingly hot and spicy food for even two months! There were days when I ordered only rice and curd with heapfuls of sugar in restaurants there!”
“Yeah! And the fellows who took such an order for meal would look at me with wide open eyes like I was some alien! Possibly they even smiled at my back!”
“I like North Indian food! I am a frequent eater of tandoori chicken. Don’t you like that?”
“I like Chinese food best. There were other times during my stay in Delhi when I used to search for Chinese restaurants to appease the grudges of my tummy”
“You should go to China then!”
“I could, but I am doubtful whether I would like any Chinese girl!”
“Do you like any girl?”
“Eh! That is some question! Now, you are making me really think about it!”
“Don’t think about me! I am already engaged to somebody”
“I was not thinking in those lines”
“You should think of it as a pre-emptive statement!”
“Is it supposed to mean that it was required to be like in the lines of you making me like you and then declaring your engagement status?”
“You are so intelligent!”
“Is doing such a thing a satisfying experience?”
“Kind of!”
“And how many times have you done that?”
“And have you ever thought of not doing that again?”
“Oh! Come on! Cut the crap! I was saying all these for fun sake. I do not intend to make you like me and I have never consciously done anything like that. Even, I am not engaged to anybody. I suppose you know what made me tell you that bit of lie”
“Are you trying to be mysterious?”
“I find your talk very engaging!”
“Yeah! You are a very likeable fellow as well”
At the exchange of the above statements, Kristen and I were looking at each other steadily for some time, and to the best of my beliefs, with an identical wave of feeling rising in each of us and fast approaching a crescendo. During those moments, I realized that I knew her in toto as well as I knew that she knew me likewise. I really liked it that she could understand that whatever I was saying was only like some kind of theatrical performance and appreciating the vibes, she was responding to me in much the same manner. All in all, she was proving an equal, or in other words, was someone similar to me, and I found it to be an utmost satisfying experience and wanted the thing to continue.
Kristen smiled at me and it appeared like she knew what was going on in my mind.
Just then, my cell phone rang.


“Sir, there has been an accident at Saraighat Bridge. I can’t get to Bharalu. Can you please come here by any means? I am at the other end of it”
That was Ali’s tidings with imperfect timing!
So, at 10:30 PM, I, or for the matter, we, were desperately looking down both ends of the almost desolate street for any sign of transport vehicle. Suddenly, Kristen shouted “An auto! An auto!!” I turned around almost in disbelief.
“Yeah! That’s an auto”. “Hey! Auto!! Stop! Stop!! Stop!!!....Stop!!”
And thus shouting, I was running behind that three-wheeled vehicle till I forced it to halt at a hundred metres distance.
“What happened?”
“To Saraighat Bridge please”
“Saraighat Bridge”
“Please! You call a price…I need to be there. My car is there. My driver is there. He can’t come over here because there has been an accident. I am a doctor…There is a girl with me…You can’t leave us alone here…Please”
“No! No time for work. I am only going home”
“Ok! Where is your home?”
“Where is your home?”
“Take us to Jalukbari. I will give you 50 bucks!”
“Yes, and 100 if you take me to Saraighat Bridge!”
“OK! Get in. Who is the girl?”
“My neighbour”.
The whole thing was now becoming too eventful. I just felt like scrolling down to the end of the script.
When we reached Saraighat Bridge, the auto driver stopped his vehicle and demanded
“200 bucks to cross the Bridge!”
I fumed. “This is crap man! Plain extortion! At any other time of the day, I would have taught you some lesson. Anyway take these hundred bucks! You may leave”
I took the hand of Kristen and helped her out of the auto. Then, we started the next part of the adventure by crossing the kilometer long bridge over a matter of half an hour.
But, at the other end of it, there were no vehicles! That came as a shocker!
Suddenly, we grew frightened and realized our mistake. I tried to call Ali but there was no network now. Kristen’s cell was already switched off due to lack of power.
I looked at Kristen and drew my face close to her ears and whispered.
We ran for 20 minutes when I saw the first vehicle of the long line of traffic at our end of the jam caused by the road block. Only at that time did we slow down, and then ambled confidently ahead till we could see an oil tanker rolled over in the middle of the highway and the whole place did smell of diesel.
I heard Ali call me “Sir! Over here!!”
I shouted back, “You told me the wrong thing Ali!! This place is far from being the other end of the Bridge!!”
“Sorry sir! I had no idea how far the Bridge is from here but people were saying that the accident was in the Bridge when I called you. After that your phone went dead”
“Man! You could have killed me! Where is the car?”
“Over there! I have steered it clear of all traffic”
“Lo! Kristen, finally!”
She displayed the most pleasant smile of the evening!
“Who is she?”
A quick word in his ears. “Memsahib!”


I suddenly woke up to voices calling out my name. I opened my eyes to see my mom and my sweet little cousin sister hanging their faces close to mine and regarding me like a just discovered cast away person lying like some dead fish in some shore.

I took the four year old Hiya in my arms and kissed her in both her cheeks and then I was thinking hard and over and over again.

“Where did I leave Kristen?”


…I looked up at the night sky. The horizon was streaked with a tawny hue and that was a reflection of the hot day that was! The warmth was still lingering on. At 12 midnight, I was 10 miles from reaching the safe abode of my home. On either side of the highway, there were expanses of uncultivated fields that were devoid of human habitation…

The engine of my car was still humming as I relaxed on the bonnet. Kristen sat there beside me and half-turned towards me, she let go a smile…

I am still in the process of remembering more…

A hundred bucks were paid to the auto driver the previous night for being part of this story. My wallet weighed lighter by hundred bucks the following morning that I woke up…

Thank you for reading!


Kristen Stewart is my favourite Hollywood actress.
The events in this story are all real life minus Kristen ;-)

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