CHAPTER 3: A well planned stay…
The hospital resides approximately 15 minutes away from home. When I play Nawazishein Karam on repeat, I almost arrive by the 6th minute, on loop for the second time. So I ordinarily prefer to attend emergency night calls from home. But in the past week, there has been a sudden outburst of casualty cases. Taking it into consideration, I planned to rest in the resident quarters tonight. Dumping the basic requirements in my rucksack, needed for spending a night in the on call room, I left for the hospital.
The resident rooms were on the topmost floor of the building. As the lift slided apart, ‘7th FLOOR’ written in bright red paint in the vernacular script caught my gaze. Hesitant at first to step out, I carefully placed my right foot out of the lift. It reminded me of a scene from Shahrukh Khan’s Main hoon na.
I imagined myself being welcomed by my room mate with a thali and a coconut( a ritual performed in India on auspicious occasions), the exact replica of how Lucky had envisaged when he was to enter the library for the first time.
The floor was a long, narrow hallway with residential blocks on either side. The entire storey painted in the shades of beige and white. Flakes of paint had come off the walls in some parts. The official in-charge, sitting on the desk, told me my room was on the last block to the left. I walked through the passage with only the sound of my shoes accompanying me. There were 4 blocks on the entire floor. Flickering lights in the middle corridor reminded me of typical bollywood horror films. I took a turn to the left block to find my room. The accomodation rooms were on the right side of the walkway with corresponding washrooms on the opposite side. Strings of clothesline hung on one side with a wide variety of clothes drying on them.
‘Its criminal baby booty going pop pop pop’ playing on loud greeted me to my room.
I’d met my room partner a few times earlier in the in-patient ward so it wasn’t a task to recognize her. She smiled on seeing me and informed me about everything I needed to know- right from which bed to occupy to which cupboard was empty, washrooms and light switches and even water cooler. Looking at her, I assumed, she was dressed to leave for dinner. While leaving, she handed me a spare key of the room and asked me to be comfortable and let her know in case I needed something.
I locked the door from inside as she left. I began unpacking the bare necessities I’d got. Spreading the newly purchased bedsheet with a peculiar smell, I placed a small pillow on one end and a thin cotton covering on the other. I arranged the toiletries in the vacant space on the table and changed to my night clothes. I washed my face, patted it dry.
Piles of medical books stocked one above the other lay on the table. She, being a dermatology resident, had an array of medicated creams and ointments placed neatly on the other table. A notebook lay open with a few anatomy notes scribbled on them.
The room was average in size, as a matter of fact, sufficient enough for two people.
Taking out Moth smoke by Mohsin Hamid from my bag, I sat on the bed stretching my legs and began reading from the page I had last left. An A4 size Lord Ganesha poster was pasted on the opposite wall, his eyes staring right into mine. I returned to reading my book.
There was implicit muteness on the floor. I could clearly hear the air circulating through the blades of the ceiling fan. Once in a while, I sensed locking and unlocking of adjacent doors and sound of footsteps but to return to absolute silence within a couple of minutes. After reading a few pages, I opened my notepad and began jotting down points to write for the next blog. I left it incomplete. I plugged the cords to my phone ,shuffled my playlist and began listening to old classics while laying down flat on the bed.
Tossing and turning on the bed, I tried sleeping while listening to the music. I could never adapt to new surroundings immediately, especially when it comes to sleeping in a new place. I got up a couple of times, once to open the door for my room mate, next to fetch my bottle of water, twice to go to the washroom. I even took a walk through the entire floor. But still wide awake. I kept staring at the ceiling fan for a long time until my eyes watered. I didn’t realise when l fell asleep .
Ironically, I received no emergency calls that night!