Battery-operated Ears

With the recent advancements in bio and nanotechnology, we can now safely assume that we will have at least some easily replaceable body parts in the future, if required. Prestigious institutions put in billions of dollars in this research just to make life easier for people in need of such prosthetic organs. But this article’s not about that; I put the enticing title to this entry to hook you in so that you’ll end up reading it (and hopefully get a few laughs). So do I have your attention now?

Women tend to fall sick a lot, so I had to take my wife to the doctor (yet again). My mom was really worried about my wife’s health so she tagged along. Funny how I find the finest insights into life at the doctors’ – this visit was no exception. This particular doctor (let’s call him Dr. Abe) has a clinic in a relatively posh Karachi locality and runs a very successful practice providing care to the rich as well as the poor. He is one of those kind souls who unselfishly hands out his cell-phone number to his patients so that they can get him when they need him; surely one of the few doctors who does justice to his Hippocratic Oath.

Dr. Abe is a highly intelligent guy with a keen sense of diagnosis, which makes him really good at his job. The only downside of visiting him is the condition of his clinic; it is in such bad shape that a makeshift clinic in the middle of the Congo jungle would seem like a palace. The walls are a drab shade of brown which, believe it or not, is the tolerable aspect of the clinic. In most places, these walls are stained with dried liquid spills in red, white, green and black (makes you wonder what goes on in there) and the stain-free portions (one can only imagine) are plastered with advertisement material from various pharmaceutical companies. If those walls could talk, they’d scream,  “Oh for the love of God, please get me a new paint-job and wash these filthy stains off of me”. Moreover, these walls are paper thin and as Dr. Abe talks really loudly, so everyone in the waiting area is privy to the doctor’s diagnosis even if the patient inside is talking in hushed tones (if you have a “special” problem, Dr. Abe is NOT your man).

So back to my story! When you stand are about to enter the clinic, you see two doors; one marked “Ladies” and the other marked “Gents”. I peeked inside the ladies door and happened to see a man sitting inside with his wife (or sister or mother – who cares?), so since I had two ladies with me, I squeezed into that section too (and also because the patient-in-question was a female; duh?!). As soon as we entered the clinic, the first thing that hit me was the stench of antiseptic and sickness (if it has any particular odor) that never fails to make me nauseous; the second thing was the wailing and screaming of a child from inside the doctor’s office. Dr. Abe (who, as I mentioned earlier, is quite a loud-mouth) was heard saying, “Beta kuch nahin hoga; tumko pata bhi nahin chalay ga” (meaning: Son, nothing will happen; you won’t even notice it).

After a few moments, a stout short bearded man came out of the doctor’s cabin holding the child-in-question’s hand. The screams had thankfully turned into sobs and a chant that went something like, “Abbu please, main nahin daalnay doon ga isko” (meaning: Please daddy, I will not let him put it inside me). The context was totally lost on me as I had not been privy to the doctor’s full diagnosis (having arrived just moments before the father-child duo came out). The child was not more than five or six, and he seemed to be in a lot of pain. My wife gave me a look that was filled with pity for the child. My mom said, “Bechara kitni takleef main hai. Pata nahin kya howa hai usko?” (meaning: The poor child is in such agony; I wonder what happened to him). The father’s exit was the doctor’s assistant’s cue to enter his office. He came out with a weird looking contraption designed for extraction (something out of a SAW movie – no wonder the kid was so scared) of something or the other and a huge flashlight. The assistant beckoned the dad to follow him into the adjoining exam room, which acted as a push-play on the child’s scream player; and there we were again. The kid went on and on saying, “Abbu please nahin, nahin, please nahin, isko mana karain” (meaning: “Daddy no, no, please, no, no, tell him not to).  I could vividly picture the father trying to console and coax his son into letting the assistant extract whatever he was supposed to extract from wherever (mysteries, mysteries…. ahh).

My mom apparently had heard something I had not (another insight – female hearing is way better than ours), thereby solving part of the mystery and shedding some light on the child’s plight. She said, “Beta, is ne kaan main kuch daal diya hai” (meaning: Son, he has put something in his ear). Although I am not a parent myself, I can very well imagine the pain a parent feels when his offspring is in pain. The child’s unceasing screams ticked Dr. Abe. He was well into his next consultation but he apologized to his other patient, stormed out of his cabin and with a determined look on his face, walked straight into the exam room the child was being held hostage in. Dr. Abe said, “Iska sar pakro, aur aap iskay pair pakrain. Isko hilnay nahin daina.” (meaning: You hold his head, and you hold his feet. Do not let him move); this triggered a series of no’s from the child (something very annoying) and within an ear-shattering scream that would scare the ghosts of Spooksville, this whole episode came to an end. The weird extraction thingy wasn’t as painful as it looked (we could only assume) as the screaming suddenly stopped and the child’s sobs (and countless sighs of relief) were heard by everyone in the clinic.

Now the final piece of the puzzle – what was in the child’s ear? Again, Dr. Abe and his loud-mouth came to the rescue. In fluent memoni (a language spoken by some Pakistanis who migrated from India), he said, “Kan main sanni wari battery wiji gini howi gharyal ji” (meaning: He had put a small wrist-watch battery in his ear). With that and a prescription for the residual pain, he handed it to the child’s father and said, “Yeh battery to kharaab ho gai hai; ek nai la kar de dijiye to main kaan main daal doon ga. Phir iska kaan sahi kaam karay ga” (meaning: This battery is drained; go get a new one and I’ll put it in his ear so that his ear can function properly); and everyone burst out laughing.

Moral of the story: No matter how much pain and suffering you have around you, there’s always time to share some laughs.

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