Serendipity and After/63

a novel about publishing of a novel

Thursday is the clinical discussion day in our department. We wind up with our outdoor work by twelve and head straight to Ezra Ward where there is a special psychiatry room for clinical meeting, discussion and special interviews with patient parties. The room is in a corner, remains locked most of the week and comes alive on Thursdays when Dr Bal marches along into it in the afternoon with his army of house staffs. It is equipped with cozy sofas, besides the usual examination bed, and a table and two chairs.

I was never aware of the existence of such a big room. There are actually many such rooms, mostly small, in nooks and crannies in different departments all over this old and big institution, and I, for one, still don’t know all of them. But it has always been an amazing experience to discover and explore such rooms.

“What’s today’s case?” Dr Bal sits in the sofa and asks us. We’re seated before him.

Then he looks at Aneek-da and queries, “Where is the cutlet? Didn’t you go to the canteen?”

Aneek-da brings out a plastic and distributes a paper-covered cutlet to each of us. This refreshment on Thursdays has been a fond memory for all of Dr Bal’s house-staffs who has worked under him at different times. I don’t remember any other professor or boss I’ve subsequently worked with has entertained the junior doctors in such a generous way.

Dr Bal takes a bite from his cutlet and says, “Start!”

Aneek-da stands up and announces in the fashion of an anchor, “We’ll present the case of Anirban Mukherjee, Headmaster of a Higher Secondary School by profession, aged 59 years, who was admitted two weeks ago on referral from cardiology where he was admitted with chest pain and shortness of breath..”

“Stop it!” Sir raises his left hand. “It’ll take an age to come to main points. So who interviewed the patient party?”

Jyoti responds, “Sir, I did.”

“Who did you talk to?”

“I talked to his wife.”

“Why only her? He has a son and daughter as far as I remember. Anyway, carry on. What’re your findings?”

“He’s happily married, small family, daughter married off, his son has recently joined a state government job. His wife is a nice and cool lady.”

“Oh, I feel like you’re telling me a story. Our job as a psychiatrist is to dig up the clues that may have some connections with this kind of illness. Anyway, have you got anything significant out of your interview?”

Jyoti gets flustered and is silent.

“Did you inquire about his workplace?”

“Yes, he’s a good teacher and loved and respected by students. He’s a religious person too. These days he was busy building a temple within the school premise.”

“So you don’t get anything odd in this history?”

“Not really.”

“Have anyone of you anything to say?” he now looks at me.

“Sir, his building of a temple seems odd to me. Why would a headmaster want to build a temple within a school which itself is regarded as a temple,” I say with a bit of uncertainty though.

“A nice point. You’re approaching the right way. Building the temple involves a big fund. Where did that fund come from? Who looked after the fund? Was there any dispute when the temple was being built? Now, bring in the patient. I would interview him.”

Aneek-da leaves the room promptly. He has to order the sister-in-charge to send the patient.

“We’re not intelligence persons or anything,” Dr Bal now says to us, “So our line of investigation will be a bit different. We are here looking for the motive of this hysteria patient. There must be something which has triggered these symptoms which have no organic basis.”


Arin Basu, SF Ali thanks for your tweet and recommends.