Thursday, August 4, 2011

Theatrics in the Theatre

“O-per-a-ted.” She enunciated each syllable slowly. 

“I am going to get operated.” Even slower this time. But she wasn’t feeling the punch. There had to be a rumble. From deep within her. Remember vocal lessons? It had to come from the stomach.

I-am-going-to-get-operated-now!” So much better. 

So it was no big deal. “Simple procedure.” The doctor had shrugged it off as a simple procedure. Except she’d never been on the operating table before. Ever.

She put her hand to her chest. “Breathe,” she told herself. “Simple procedure. One hour. You might as well be watching an episode of Grey’s Anatomy.”

“Oh good,” she lifted her head off the pillow as the nurse walked in. “Finally time for the surgery.”

“How are we feeling today?”

“Antiseptic,” she felt like saying. Instead she smiled back.

“Can I walk to the OT?” She was testing the waters. “Really. My legs work. See?” There, the wiggling of the toes.

“Oh no! Oh no, no, no! Nobody walks to the theatre!” The smile faltered. “You have to lie down, ok?” She almost seemed put off, in a way.

She could hear the squeal of rubber tires as her bed was wheeled out. There’s the elevator she had ridden up to her floor. STANDING. Like one big happy family, she (in her bed) and seven others with ‘visitor’ tags snugly fit in. 

“Oh, you poor thing.” She could almost hear them. Like the sad clown at every circus, she was one to be sympathized, not empathized with. Four floors later, she heaved a sigh of relief. She was finally wheeled away from those prying eyes searching for an abnormality.  

There ahead were the big, blue doors of the Operation Theatre. She announced her entrance with squeaks and squeals. The stage was set. Soft yellow light, spring cleaned walls and strangers in PJs.

She was shifted to the operating table. Someone put an oxygen mask over her mouth, someone whispered “anesthetist”, someone checked the instruments. Everyone played a role. Theatrics.

 “We’re just going to strap your arms here,” said someone. The table had sprouted extensions.  “So they don’t hang limp,” continued that someone as he velcroed her arms mechanically (limp arms were a regular occurrence).

Finally, she was all strapped up, arms open wide, eyes open wide, waiting for the Act to begin. As was the rest of the cast. Except, the lead actor was still on her way.

One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three Mississippi…

“Were doctors often late for their own surgeries?” she wondered as she stared at the ceiling, stifled a yawn and accommodated a fantasy. 

“Just try to relax. You’re going to feel a little drowsy now.”

The lights swim before her eyes. Yellow burns brighter. McDreamy leans over and says, “Don’t worry. You’re in good hands.” His rugged face breaks into a smile, she sighs and shuts her eyes. The audience breaks into a thunderous applause. He was going to save her life!!!

“Muqabla, Muqabla, Laila Oh Ho Laila…” Prabhudeva????!

Her eyes snapped open. She jerked her head around. A cellphone?! A goddamn cellphone in the Operation Theatre?! She didn’t know what exasperated her more- the phone, the ringtone or the fact that she’d fallen asleep while anesthesia was around. 

She stared at the clock on the wall. Had it really only been 5 minutes? It’s no wonder time seemed to drag. Entertainment wasn’t top priority here. In fact, contrary to the good chaps at Grey’s, the only handsome hunk in this sick room seemed to be, allegedly, a nurse’s suitor, now plastered onto her phone’s wallpaper. 

“Isn’t he ekdum mast?! They came home yesterday for the rishta,” she giggled to her companion in Marathi.

Aga, be careful of these Nagpur boys. You don’t know…..” Their voices trailed off or perhaps she had shut them out. It might as well have been the waiting room of a beauty parlor. Except she was strapped to a bed. And they were missing a doctor.

And just when she was going to have another exasperation-inducing sleeping session, the stainless steel doors parted and the doctor waltzed in, playing her part with panache. Handbag expertly thrown into waiting hands, she glided into an open gown, tied her sash, adjusted her mask, disinfected her hands and materialized beside the expectant patient.

“Sorry I’m late. Bombay traffic!” A theatrical sigh.

“Oh, no trouble at all!” She said. She wanted to say, “A minute longer and you wouldn’t have needed anesthesia to keep me asleep.” But she didn’t. It would have spoiled the show.

“Should we get started?” The lead actor nodded to the anesthetist. “Just try to relax. You’re going to feel a little drowsy now.”

The lights swam before her eyes. Yellow burned brighter. McDreamy leaned over.

The show had begun.  

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