Priyanka has had a fever for the last two days. I told her to pop a crocin and take it easy, but I think the latter is an alien concept to these civil service aspirants. Fever or not, the girl wakes up at four every morning to swot for the exams. She is still doing it when I leave for college, then sometime after that she leaves for her own classes. When I return at around five in the evening, she makes us chai, and we chit chat for a while. That is the only break she takes in her entire day. Even then, I am the one making the bulk of the conversation while she thumbs through the Times of India, the least taxing newspaper of the four that she reads in the course of the day. She is generally in bed by 11. That is when I sound a missed call to Maa to call me back.
I never really have much to tell her. I remember when Didi used to work in Hyderabad- Maa and she would talk for at least an hour every night, and the conversations were simply never ending on weekends. With me, I crib a little about the tough course, about how I have no life, and before exams, I tell her exactly how confident I am about failing. She has learnt to sidestep these issues over the months, and moves swiftly on to gossip about the family. Sometimes I listen with a lot of interest and ask her a lot of questions about everything. At other times, I mumble that I am sleepy, and then promptly spend the next two hours surfing through what is mostly drivel, on the internet.
Anyway, last night I told her about Priyanka’s fever. She suggested I take her to Doctor Bannerjee, our ex-family doctor. The ex part is because I am the only bit of the family left in Delhi now, and I have a surprisingly strong constitution. At least I don’t catch anything that a Crocin and taking it easy won’t treat. But I remember I used to love him as a child. His clinic was really the basement of a dreary grey forbidding bungalow that has father-in-law owned in C.R Park, right opposite Market 2.The doctor himself was the complete anti-thesis of the building he worked out of- young, cheerful, and sharing wonderful chemistry with all his patients.
The elderly would dote on him because he would make house calls for none but them, and charge lower fees for the retired, like for my grandma. I loved him because he would keep up a friendly stream of conversation especially when administering injections. And offer a toffee afterward. My dad, a sufferer of the White Coat Syndrome loved him for the same reason. For diverting him with the chatter while checking his blood pressure I mean, not the toffees. The women loved him too- his studious good looks may have had something to do with it. But also because he wasn’t like a lot of other jaded doctors at the big hospitals, who would spend less than a minute to check what was wrong and immediately pass judgement on the unhealthy lifestyle you led. Instead, he would laboriously explain what was actually wrong with us, with the help of pictorial depictions of the human body that hung from the walls of his office. Admittedly, that was when I would lose interest and start salivating about the varieties of rolls that Dadur Dokan in Market 2 offered, fully intending to throw a tantrum if my parents refused to buy me my choice of delicacy that day- fever or not.
Priyanka smiled when I reminisced thus, but baulked at the idea of going all the way to C R Park for just a fever. However, when the fever did not abate for the third day in a row, she acquiesced.