The Missing Patient
The Eye Hospital
When I was about to go to my office one morning I received a call from my friend in Jalpaiguri, a northern district town of West Bengal, requesting me to help his uncle, a professor of a local college undergo an urgent operation in an eye hospital near our town. They had already arranged everything prior to the procedure but unfortunately in view of a mishap in the family they had rushed back to their town and would not be available at the time of his operation.
Intimating my boss about the possible delay in reaching my office I waited for the gentleman to contact me.As already estimated the person arrived on time. But I could not match his appearance with the description I had received from my friend. He looked very shabby with dishevelled hair, unshaven face and showing overall an unkempt body altogether unbecoming of the position he was holding. He was carrying a big suitcase. As I was in a haste I introduced him very briefly to one of the directors of the hospital who assured me total cooperation during operation on the same day as already fixed by them.
Admission For Operation
After admission of the patient I left the place to reach my office to cater to the waiting customers who had by then swelled. However, I did not have any reason to worry for the patient as I was sure that he would be in the safe hands of the hospital staff. I knew the director for a long time. His attention to the personal care of all the patients undergoing treatment was never doubted by anybody and the hospital had been growing by leaps and bounds due to the presence of persons like him who were at the helm of its affairs.
So when I received another call from my friend in Jalpaiguri I once again assured him that his uncle was under the best possible care and there was nothing to worry about him. I also told my friend clearly that as instructed by the surgeon he would be released in the afternoon after the operation and that he would be brought to my Dumdum residence for rest and recuperation. My friend was also reassured and appeared to be very happy and relieved of any unnecessary anxiety.
Where is The Patient?
During the recess period I went to the hospital to see the patient. The director had dropped a hint that everything would be complete by then, so I tried to contact him forthwith imagining that he had already been taking rest in the lobby after the operation. Being unable to locate him I rushed to meet the director who was also found to be anxiously looking for him. I heard an announcement was also being made requesting him to immediately attend the surgeon’s chamber.The director pleaded his helplessness for not being able to trace him anyhow.
A Crowd of Waiting Patients
Worry For The Professor
Since I had been introduced to the person for the first time I could not find him out among the waiting patients who had by then turned into a small crowd with their near and dear ones looking after them. I frantically began to look for him outside the hospital premises as he was nowhere to be found inside the hospital.
I became very restless. I started to curse myself for not knowing the man fully beforehand although I knew it well that it could not be possible in such a short span of time and introduction. I had lodged the patient with the director and I could only seek his help to trace the patient.
I had also a feeling of guilt as my inner ego perhaps had misjudged the person as his outer appearance had come uppermost in my mind. I was so much preoccupied with his look and sartorial matters that I ignored to study him properly which could have saved me from the present predicament. After all he was a professor.
My lunch break was over but waiting for the man for a long period I had to tell my office over the phone once again about my possible inordinate delay in view of such unforeseen circumstances. Although I was again assured by the officer in charge that left me wondering how soon I could return to my office. Meanwhile, I received another call from Jalpaiguri enquiring about the patient. I had only to resort to falsehood so that they did not unnecessarily worry about their dear one. I became very much anxious for the professor and even wondered whether he suffered from any dementia or schizophrenia that had forced him to leave such an unknown place alone leaving us in the dark. Another possibility that cropped up in my mind was that he perhaps had sought to avoid coming under any obligation.
A Bewildering Discovery
After a long abortive search when at long last I felt totally exhausted and almost ruled out any possibility of finding him I saw a gentleman approaching the surgeon’s chamber with hurried steps. Soon the director arrived and the man claiming to be the missing patient sought immediate surgical intervention. While the surgeon appeared to be very irritated both the director and I felt bewildered at this turn of events. As we could not identify the patient the professor blurted out” Why cannot you recognize me? Are you seeing me for the first time? I am really sorry for being late in reporting as I was in the wash room.” We could see the professor immaculately attired, well shaven and wearing the look of seemingly another person matching completely the description I had gathered from my friend in Jalpaiguri.
We had nothing to speak anymore but just silently observed him being taken to the Operation theatre for the long awaited eye surgery at last. We heaved a sigh of relief...
Operation in Progress
© 2018 ARUN KANTI CHATTERJEE