The Hospital Appointment
by Vimala Ramu
After the successful completion of the surgery and the return home of my husband, it was time for a review. I had to fix up appointments with two specialists, fortunately on the same day.
To be on the safer side I rang up the hospital 6 days earlier. I was met with the courteous, articulate voice of the receptionist who said she would direct my call to the right person. I first fixed up the appointment with the doctor who I was told would be available in the hospital all the days. Next, I was asked to contact the receptionist of the other doctor for the appointment. I was told that that particular specialist visited the hospital only on two days in a week, neither of the days being the one I had fixed up with the first doctor. Again I had togo back to him, change his appointment to the day of the second one and confirm it to the receptionist of the second one. The whole process was not as easy as it sounds because every time I had to ring the hospital afresh toget the receptionist of a particular doctor.
As I was doing all this ‘to to fro’ and ‘fro to to’ business, my call once went to a lady whose talking was not only totally gibberish but the voice was also muffled as if she was talking through a couple of layers of cloth. As soon as she picked up the phone, I let go in Kannada my predicament. She struggled and managed to utter, ‘No English’. Surprised at her reaction to my Kannada, I switched over to English. Again she said, ‘No English’. I wondered what had happened to the efficient, multilingual staff of the hospital. How could they all suddenly change into mumbling specimens like this? I put the phone down in disgust.
I tried to ring up the hospital again. But, tired of ringing up the same number every time, I just redialed.This time a gruff, male voice came on saying ‘No English’. I asked, ‘What language? Hindi?. The voice answered, “Farsi, Pushtu, Arabi”. I got the shock of my life. I could imagine a tall, hefty person wearing a white Jaleba and a white head scarf fastened with a black headband.Had I chanced upon the secret den of some terrorists? Will the police be tracking this call? Will I be awarded for locating a terrorist hide out and preventing a major attack on the city? My imagination was running wild.
Suddenly I remembered that the priority of the moment was the hospital appointment and not anything else. I put the phone down saying ‘Wrong number’ and dialed the hospital number carefully digit by digit and got the appointments as I wanted.