Humour in a hospital may sound weird, yet when your tension is relieved a bit, you begin to enjoy certain things happening around, even if you didn’t notice them when you were occupied with fear, pain and agony. Recently, I experienced a mixed feeling of anxiety and wit at a hospital.
It all began with the recent earthquake rattling us on the seventh floor of the famous private hospital. I had a feeling of vertigo when the attending nurse felt the tremors. My wife was in the toilet. The building began to swing sideways and then to the centre. I tried to rubbish the thought of vertigo when the nurse shrieked in a typical south-Indian accent, “Aarth-kwik sir,” “Oh yes,” I yelled and called out to my wife to get out immediately.
Strong-willed, she refused saying, “By the time we get out of here, it will be all over. Relax.” Others on the floor also managed to flaunt a strong upper lip despite apprehension writ large on their faces. I saw from the window that people had begun to head through the fire-exit on the stairs. When it all calmed down, the nurse giggled at me since I was carrying two bags besides that of my wife on my shoulders.
Then entered the doctor who poked us, “Was it before the earthquake that you came, or the shaking came after you had landed in.” I couldn’t grin more, at the same time looking at the nurse who had announced the jolt and had seen me trying to eject lock, stock and barrel. She, of course, knew more about white-livered people.
Nurses all over the country are mostly from Kerala. Why only in our country, even in the Gulf. A typical habit with most of them is to talk in Hindi if you talk in English, and vice versa. One of them came, said something, and winked at me. I didn’t notice. She said something again, and winked again. Puzzled a little, I asked her to give me the cue again, feeling embarrassed, when my wife chipped in, “Isn’t she winking at you, why ask again?” In my absence she sang a song for my wife in perfect Urdu accent, ‘Hum tere bin ab reh nahin sakte, tere bina kya wajood mera.’ She had no voluntary control over the movement of her eyelids.
Another scene worth a mention is people waiting for the lifts to arrive at their level, nearly playing musical chairs and heading towards the one which is approaching faster. If it gets delayed on another floor, and the other lift begins to move, all head towards it, making the lift-lobby a tilting boat.
The worst is when you have to save face if caught eating the stuff meant for the patient. Of course, nobody snatches the morsel from your mouth, but it all gets stuck there, while an innocuous smile by someone who noticed it is chilling. And the best is when out of the two or three of you, chortling and jostling, the attendant doctor asks, “Who is the patient?”