I suppose it began with my friend’s ingenious ‘Get Well Soon’ plan and how it turned disastrous but to explain that I’ll have to take you even further back. On the summer of 2004, a bright monday afternoon, my Grandmammy whom I lovingly called Peep shot both her hands to her chest and wailed out loud causing the entire family of seven (including me) to cram ourselves inside a car and scram towards the nearby cardiologist. The cardiologist after examining her cardios politely informed us to go to the nearby neurologist. And so, we wheeled the car round to the neurologist who checked her neurons and calmly informed us to ‘pass by’ the twin doctors, the hematologist and the hepatologist. Cramming ourselves inside the car, we once again made off to the twins and after them, to the nephrologist, to the gastroenterologist, to the psychologist, then to the dentist – she didn’t even have a single tooth in her mouth! – and the pulmonologist. The latter told us to get admitted and we soon found ourselves inside a large AC room. I guess they must have mistaken us to be rich in cash. They soon discovered the converse when, a few hours later, a gang burst in and made a huge fuss and fetched the security, who had nothing to do in particular that exact time but check out our car and see whether it matched his uniform because he had nothing to do in particular that exact time, a hard slap on the cheeks and drove away with it. Our car was wanting payments. We were soon hurled in a tight dingy room with a ceiling fan that shrieked often!
Our relatives came in flocks the next day. Finding the AC room to be empty, my uncle caught hold of a skinny nurse and shook her and threatened her. She revealed that we had shifted upstairs. In the tiny room, every member including Grandmammy Peep wrestled for space, literally. There were in total fifteen people, who refused to budge from their places, jampacked inside the snug little room. They brought their mattresses with them and offered to sleep there itself. They occupied each and every free space inside, around and outside the room. My perverted second cousin even offered to sleep on the receptionist’s table which my dad prevented. One, two and three children were crammed inside the dusty almirah. And my uncle and aunt slowly cuddled under the bed and sneezed together!
Uncle Joy took great care of Grandmammy. So dedicated was he that when she shrieked out loud at midnight (a habit she’s been at for the past 2 years) he’d wake up in alarm and hit his head against the belly of the bed and yell even louder waking up the rest and would give the kid nearest to him a big heave out the door and then heave another one after him to remind the first one to get the nurse which he’d obviously forgotten to do and then one more after them to warn the nurses that if they don’t get their ‘horses’ up in five, he’d be sending my second cousin next. And the nurse, a cute little thing who blushed quietly and sneezed cutely, would scamper along with her supplies. My father had a perpetual distrust of doctors and nurses and lawyers and anyone wearing black or white or both. And hence when she arrived, each of us eyed her suspiciously like how one would eye a dancing drunk who decides to show up at a sweet-sixteen-midnight-party, and shot questions at her in chorus about the brand, the cost, colour and the taste of the medicines. Each and every movement of hers was scrutinized in detail. She was hissed at, growled at and roared at by each person in the room. Then, my second cousin felt that he had to examine her uniform for dust and flees which caused her to flee never to be seen again in the premises. She was replaced by an ugly nurse who had layers of fat as an excuse for muscles. She got hold of the hospital authorities who warned us that only one person would be allowed to stay there. My folks didn’t like the sound of it and they formed into packs. The hospital battalion waged war. It was a bloody one alright. In the end, my folks gave in and surrendered except for my wailing nephew. And the flocks left, leaving with grandmammy Peep, myself, that wailing creature, and the three kids still stuffed inside the almirah!
Our neighbours were not so friendly. There was one fellow whom we called next-door-Joe whom I suspected of concealing weapons under his coat. He looked after his little brother (so went the rumours because no one had actually seen the little brother) in a very diligent manner. Their room was always closed and next-door-joe came out quite secretly looking around at each corner staring at each person with disgust. I seriously do not know why he looked at me with abhorrence. I didn’t do anything wrong except go out once in a while in front of his closed door and spit saliva on the entrance (and sometimes chewed gum). I hated him for this reason and even told the hospital authorities about next-door-joe’s secret. But they shunned me off and finally me and the four little brats decided to take matter into our own hands. We silently slid up to the door one afternoon while Joe had gone outside and using my master card – okay.. credit card.. no? Okay.. debit card.. I give up.. using my nephew’s Charmander Pokemon Card.. There you go, satisfied?.. – so, using that, we broke in. The room was similar to ours but there was a pungent smell emanating from somewhere. The four brats moved in military precision, crouching down and walking on their knees. They moved like someone who got their derrière beaten the hell out of. On the main bed lay a man, unconscious and snoring like Uncle Joy does. He was half naked and was hairy and mean that I decided it be best not to wake him up at any given point. Moving on, I came upon a suspicious looking trunk and opened it and was stunned. It was completely filled with women’s inner-wear and lingerie. Was Joe secretly a cross dresser? My mind imagined him to be one and I suspect it was this secret he was hiding under his shirt all the time. As I struggled to put the pieces together my eyes fell upon the brats who were now upon the bed of the half-naked brother, slithering around him playfully while one of them extended his hand and pinched the nose of the unconscious man. My eyes widened and before I could do anything about it the half-naked man woke up and stared at the brats, who were shocked, and screamed above his voice. I quickly ran towards them and pushed the brats behind to keep them safe from the mean guy and in the process he fell to the floor with a huge thud and remained there without motion. Nope, he was not dead. He was just paralysed neck-down. The door latch sounded and in came Joe who was shocked to find on the bed instead of his loving brother, the five of us, and he went into a fit that caused the brats to scamper all around. He came at us with full speed and stepped on his fallen brother and hurled himself at me and we grappled for on the bed for some time then fell to the floor, the fall broken by the half-naked brother. The brats had taken their military position and started cheering for me. Joe wriggled and I squirmed. Tactically manoeuvring myself, I gave a blow that sent the two brothers under the bed and shouting in pain and quickly caught the brats who’d joined the fight with their own mini punches and kicks and got the hell out of there. Later, I met him and decided to let bygones be whoever the hell they wanted to be, but Joe did not have the same opinion. He cursed and kicked and spat whenever he saw me. I still could not find, however hard I tried, any plausible reason for him to hate me so much!
It was on that day that the idea of giving my grandmammy a ‘Get well soon’ greeting dawned upon the skulls of my friends. They planned a pompous greeting just like a ‘normal’ party with those long tube-like thingies that sent off debris into the air with a pop and they also had a couple of those cans which sent off shooting soapy cream wherever they aimed and shot it. And so, they burst in through the door emitting a loud outcry; ‘GET WELL SOON, GRANDMA PEEP’, with posters of Grandmammy Peep they’d sketched themselves which did not even resemble a human being, and releasing the POPs into the air which went with a POP sound and sprayed the can on everyone’s faces. It’d have gone perfectly well but they actually chose to do all this in our old AC room!
The occupants of the AC room were totally unprepared for what was going to happen to them when they signed up to be admitted for whatsoever reasons. There were three occupants in the room; a thin old lady, her cute daughter and their neighbour. The old woman’s been suffering from asthma attacks since the second world war and has been blaming it on any soldier she could find ever since. It was a shock to her when she found out that her daughter had married a soldier. There was chaos in the house. She later found out that her decent daughter had been secretly visiting the bachelor neighbour who was not a bit cute. But he was a carpenter and the old lady encouraged this secret rendezvous. All three of them eloped and shifted to the other side of town.
The daughter had gone for a beauty bath when my friends burst in with posters and POPs and party cans yelling get well soon slogans. They sprayed the soapy cream at the old granny and the neighbour who started screaming. The granny flung a nearby glass flower vase at one of my friends who dodged it. It hit one of those cute little nurses who was passing by at the time and she hit the floor. By this time, the daughter came out covered in a towel, armed with two soaps and a shampoo bottle and whirled it and it hit the wall and ricocheted, falling on the head of Joe who was there at the moment. Joe immediately reached into his coat and grabbed a revolver and let fly, high into the air: once, twice and thrice which brought a stampede of nurses from upstairs tumbling down. All the nurses were flattened by the fat ugly nurse. She immediately got up and made like a cannonball towards old Joe struck him in the ribs. Hearing all the racket downstairs I came down to find that the old granny had all of them in attention. She had on a colourful sports cap on her head and a revolver in her hands aimed at Ol’ Joe. “Die! Soldier!!!”, she cried and pulled the trigger. It hit the fat nurse on the arm and she fainted. I jumped at the old granny that instant and with a blow to her head, disarmed her. By that time Joe had disappeared into one of the labs and started smashing the equipments on the ground and some at the stunned spectators too. X-ray machines and CAT scanners were ripped from their places and hurled at the ground. All this continued till finally, one nurse had the sense to dial the cops. I saw my friends inside the AC room flirting with the daughter and got hold of them and dashed upstairs and took Grandmammy Peep and the brats along and quietly fleed the town. Last I heard of, Joe was diagnosed with mental problems. His brother was shifted to another hospital. The daughter and the old granny fell in love with pulmonologist and together they eloped leaving the poor carpenter to deal with the hospital issues. Grandmammy Peep’s pain in the chest had subsided and we were now living in another part of town. The hospital went in loss and they faced a lot of legal, economic and mental issues. Turns out they’d been committing frauds in large amounts. My dad maintained that this is the reason he doesn’t trust anyone. “No one is sincere now-a-days!”, he’d say and go on to bribe the policeman for letting him off the hook one more time. I saw that cute nurse we first had at one of the markets. She did not recognize me and I went and talked to her. She told me she worked at a hospital but had to leave it because she was underpaid and because the head doctor was always trying to make advances towards her! There, I went speechless.