Dr Jhatka, who gave us a shock

  • Col Avnish Sharma (retd), Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Oct 15, 2014 09:42 IST

Remembering Pran Kumar Sharma, late creator of Chacha Chaudhary, also reminds me of Dr Jhatka, another popular character that first appeared in Hindi comic magazine 'Lotpot' as part of Kripa Shankar Bhardwaj strip Motu-Patlu. His using of all kinds of tools except medical instruments, rustic management of critically ill patients, weird diagnosis, weirder treatments, and ability to make perfectly fit clients disabled for life made him a unique professional.

An advanced exposure to his kind was the watching of "Carry On Doctor" in the "Carry On" series of English comedy films in my college days. This was just the lighter side of the medical profession but a physical tryst with similar characters was unimaginable until my mother, otherwise quite fit, recorded abnormally high blood pressure.

After we couldn't get to her doctor on telephone, we moved her to this distant but new, upscale private multispecialty healthcare institute. The emergency ward environment resembled a fish market. The chitchat and the team's casual dressing made it hard to tell doctors from assistants.

A man, a doctor supposedly, entered the bed enclosure and barked orders to connect the old lady to a monitor. He sounded like a drill sergeant let loose from the military academy; his voice enough to give critically ill patients a heart attack.

At least three doctors and as many attendants took the medical history of my mother before a fresh face brought in an ECG (electrocardiogram) report and waved it at me. "The patient has a pacemaker fitted?" he asked. "No doctor, I am certain it is not so," I responded, meekly. The young man, an intern, I presume, was losing patience. He started explaining to me the complicated ECG graphs, all Greek to me.

When I tried to argue, he shut me up. "Are you the patient's relative? Call someone from her family. Mataji, apke pacemaker kab parra tha (Mother, when did you have the pacemaker fitted?" he asked my mother, who was terrified by now.

Amid all this discussion, he ordered the nurse to administer a medicine through drip. Suddenly, a freely floating attendant appeared and whispered something in the doctor's ear. The hitherto angry doctor had a smirk on his face when he broke the news: "This ECG is of the patient in the opposite cubicle." Ooh, a close shave.

A torturous two hours later, we got our usual consultant on telephone, finally, and now requested the hospital for discharge. The new intern on duty had no clue what the doctor before him had observed, so a quick discharge was out of the question. It did not end until we had cleared a hefty bill, turning down an offer by the clerk for discount if we didn't ask for invoice.

My mother, stunned by the prospect of wearing a pacemaker, had in the meantime recovered from the shock. She almost sprinted to where our vehicle was parked. A couple of kilometres from the hospital, my wife, an eternal optimist, remarked: "The air-conditioners in the ward were so effective." I saw mother having a hearty laugh after ages.

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