Serendipity and After/61

a novel about publishing of a novel

After tea we return to our department and enter Dr Bal’s room. Our two other house staffs — Jyotirmoy and Tirtha, both from my batch — are already there. “Let’s us go on the round,” Dr Bal gets up from his seat.

Our indoor patients are in Ezra ward — in the far extreme corner of hospital premise. It’s about four minutes’ walk from our outdoor. Dr Bal is walking fast in big strides. We are behind him trying hard to keep pace with him.

As we enter the ward, an elderly nurse greets our Sir. She seems to like him a lot.

“So how are my patients, sister?” Sir asks her in a jovial mood.

“No problem except that headmaster in Bed No 5. He’s giving us a bad time.”

“We’re here now to give you a good time,” he responds with a smile.

It’s the male psychiatry ward ground floor. The patients all stand up as if in fear as they see Dr Bal appear. He takes a quick glance at all of them and get straight to a suave-looking, elderly gentleman — his look very different from other patients, but he’s very restless and always looking at the gate in a panicky way.

“How are you?” Dr Bal asks in his deep booming voice, his gaze now fixed at the patient’s face.

“My chest pain and shortness of breath are exactly the same as when I was admitted here,” the patient responds. “I don’t get any benefit from your medicine.”

“Do you want to get cured?”

The headmaster gets befuddled at this abrupt question. “What a question! Why have I come here, doctor, if I don’t want to be cured?” he shots back in a headmasterly voice.

“Are you sleeping well at night?”

“It’s a broken sleep and I get bad dreams.”

Dr Bal now turns to Aneek-da. “What drugs is he on?”

“Nitrazepam 5 mg at bed time.”

“Increase the dose!”

He now goes over to other patients, talks to them in his customary fashion and is done with them. I find a patient staring in my face with suspicion.

For the first time I get the impression that Dr Bal listens to his patient not just with his ears, but with all of his body and mind.

Now we climb up the stairs. Psychiatry female ward is on first floor. Aneek-da points me to a young, attractive girl sitting on her bed in a dozy way. “Her boyfriend has left her,” he whispers to me. So this may be also the cause of a mental illness!

None of the others wears normal look. Their illness is writ on their faces as it were. Two of them are very grubby.

Dr Bal doesn’t talk to them as much as he observes them. He spends a little bit more time before the jilted lover.

We come back downstairs.

We’re now walking back. Dr Bal is at his long strides, and Aneek-da is now walking by his side talking.

Tirtha asks me, “So how is the first day?”

“It’s a whole new world,” I respond to him, “I find it interesting.”

“But I don’t like it,” Tirtha replies.

“I’ve to like it,” Jyotirmoy reacts. “I have no other option except being a psychiatrist.”

Sir is now waiting before his car for his driver. Aneek-da is with him. The driver comes in and opens the door for Dr Bal who waves his hands at Aneek-da. The car starts and leaves the hospital.

Aneek-da faces us.

“Jyoti, you should interview the headmaster’s wife thoroughly tomorrow. Sir has given me a lead. He thinks that the headmaster has committed a crime which he can’t handle. We have to know the motive. I’m going to talk with the headmaster again. Sir wants me to put it on Saturday’s special clinic for discussion.”

It’s about two PM. We’re hungry and are already late for our lunch.


Arin Basu, thanks for your tweets. You’re really a great soul. My gratitude to you.

SF Ali thanks for sticking with me.