MIDWAY : Who’s next?

Sachin M Bajimaya

I had an appointment with the doctor at eight o’clock that Saturday morning. Saturday, because the doctor could not make it to the hospital for his regular 3-6pm duty on weekdays, thanks to the ongoing political agitation. I was patient number four, and that was finalised the day before. So I rushed to the hospital that morning — else I would still be in bed — with an empty stomach. A swift payment of doctor’s fees and I walked through a corridor to find the doctor’s room. A man was comfortably deposited at the far end of the seating array and a garrulous bunch of four scattered on the rear end. I assumed; two more to go before before my turn came. And so I squeezed in between.

Unusually though, despite the hospital’s good reputation, nobody was there to prevent people from jumping the queue. So I assumed that patients punctually took their turns. More so because the presumed first guy, was already in. And two gentlemen, supposedly No 2 and No 3 awaited their turns too. I considered myself as No 4. Minutes later, No 1 came out and then the quartet, the supposed group to go next as the presumed No 2, entered. Wishes were exchanged briefly and a fusillade of problems fired at the doctor could be clearly heard outside.

While the ones outside were all ears to the din inside, a couple arrived and settled on to my left. The noise racket in the room ebbed away; the door flung open and out poured the quartet. The assumed No 3 stood and prepared to get in. Surprisingly, the couple who had just arrived lunged for the door. This petrified No 3 and myself and all of us converged at the doorstep. Annoyed, I asked the couple if they would wait for their turn because we were all numbered and we all fumbled for our tokens. Before I could find mine, the couple flashed up No 2.

That was when I knew the other man now stood at No 3, and I would follow him. After 15-odd minutes, he walked in. Gearing up for my take then, I had hardly been through a cursory glance at my reports, when I heard taps of hurried footsteps approaching, and in came a woman, almost running. “Has the doctor come?” she asked hastily. “Yes”, I replied. “And he’s seen a few patients already.” “Oh!” She frowned and gathered her breath. And then, “Well,” she added. “It’s gotta be my turn next.” “And why’s that?” I queried out of horror. She pulled out her receipt as she said, “Because I am No1.”