I apologise to my readers for having kept Susie off my blog for a considerable period of time. She was indisposed for a while, you see, having contracted malaria first, and then a bit of gas, ostensibly from an overdose of medications prescribed by my dear friend Dr. Phadnis. Now she is fine, radiating from the glow of iron tonics and protein powders, that I had pilfered from the Hospital Director’s room and given away to her in an act of genuine benevolence. It’s an altogether another matter that the Director was mad the next day, he having milked the medical reps for the products in the first place, with the charitable aim to improve the general health and appearance of a certain Miss Priyanka, the hospital’s newest receptionist.
So, there she was, back in my room, sipping coffee. She closed her eyes, threw back her arms, thrust forward her large cookies (Susie was indeed having large coconut cookies with coffee, trust me) and yawned noisily. She was sitting just across the table and her carelessness allowed me to steal a quick glance deep inside her throat. Just as I was contemplating whether to reach up to her and tickle her cute little uvula with a syringe, Susie shut her mouth abruptly.
“What saar! You ver lukking inside my mauth…?!”
“Oh! W..was I?” I quickly shifted my gaze and started drumming my fingers on the table.
“Yes saar. I saw you lukking inside me!”
Now that was a lie. I was in no way ‘looking inside her’ if you go by the strictest sense of the phrase. I agree I have briefly tried to look inside her (inside her soul, I mean) on a couple of occasions in the past, but most definitely not now. Moreover, her abrupt charge caught me in a fix. If I admitted to the act, it would risk a long session of verbal ping-pong with the nursey. If I rejected her allegations, she would invariably find other means to extract a painful confession from me. Once, despite no fault of mine, she had two of my teeth knocked out completely by a deadly combination of thayir sadham and kappa vevichathu allegedly cooked by her humongous aunt. My only fault was that I had not informed her of an inspection by the Hospital Hardware Committee in advance, as a result of which she failed to produce two paperweights that the records showed to be in Susie’s possession. Now, Thayir sadham when mixed in roughly equal proportions with kappa vevichathu forms a deadly plastic explosive like lump that is unquestionably the sourest thing on the planet. Thank God the minions of Al Qaida are yet to discover the deadly side effects of Eliamma Aunty’s cuisine, or else they’d have unleashed a series of kappa vevichathu bombings across the world! And it was only much later that I realised that one of the anagrams of sourest is oestrus! Eliamma Aunty in oestrus…lethal indeed!
“Saar?” Susie nudged me with her eyes. “Tell me na saar…you ver lukking inside my mouth na saar?”
“Umm….yes. But just a little. I didn’t see much Susie…”
“O..ho! I was right saar!” Susie’s eyes brightened. “What did you see saar? Please tell me na…”
“I told you Susie….I didn’t see much..”
“Saar…” Susie bit her lip..”You are not being truthful….are you shy of me?”
“Why should I be shy of you? I’m not even shy of my wife!” I boasted, only to realise that the comment had gone a bit too far. A doctor ought to be of an inherently shy nature, I thought. Shyness confers a degree of immunity from locker room mishaps, something I had realised last year when three young, pretty and inquisitive OT nurses (I guess they were Julie, Rosamma and Annamma …maybe not Annamma, I’m not sure) had barged into the OT locker room while I was changing. What followed was a series of polyphonic screams from the three, followed by a melee and a mini stampede, as the three rushed out and thirty rushed in, followed by the OT incharge and a little later by the Director himself. From that day onwards, I always pretend to be extraordinarily shy and close the locker room door tightly before even I take off my shoes. Anyway, more on that story later.
Susie was still looking at my face, perhaps expecting an admission of sorts.
“Susie, stop looking at me that way….I told you I didn’t see anything worthwhile…moreover, you look sleepy. Didn’t you catch enough sleep last night?”
“No saar…I was thinking of you saar…..” Susie laid her head on the table and said dreamily.
“What!” I suddenly felt like a brooding mother hen which had just discovered that one of her eggs had got really stuck down there. I had to fight to shut out suggestive visuals of Susie eloping with me with a tiffin carrier full of kappa vevichathu. What a scandal it would be!
“Susie….” I said firmly “…you should not think about me in the night. Er….by the way…..what were you thinking?”
“Nothing saaaaaw” Susie again broke into a noisy sigh. “I was thinking of inviting you to our house for lunch next week…..Eliamma Aunty is coming from Kerala….”
A chill ran down my spine and knocked my knees together. As Susie dozed off on my desk, I silently stood up and ran my tongue on the bare mounds of hardened gum where my two molars used to stand proudly. Nah! I had to plan a holiday to Shimla next week. You don’t get decorated with military honours for surviving Eliamma Aunty’s cuisine!