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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Frozen blood by Dalpat Chauhan




Translated by Dr.G.K.Vankar

Dr.Parikh. Yes, Doctor Parikh. He scribbled for long with his costly pen on the artistic prescription paper as if he was writing a prescription for his own illness. What a dangerous disease? Will he reach the diagnosis? He felt it’s too hazy and too difficult when you haven’t reached a diagnosis.
Can Bhala of Daya never become Devendra? Was he destined to remain Dayo forever? Doctor muttered. He craned his neck, glanced at the wall of the room. The hand of seconds in the beautiful electronic clock jerked with slow halts. The minutes hand would take longer. The hour hand was still, like time itself. Doctor smiled. The minutes hand moved. It was exactly five in the morning.
“O my God! It’s already five!”
He was used to wake up at five in the morning and never needed alarm to wake him up. His waking up at five was invariable. He remembered not an instance    when he dint wake up at five. Did he sleep today? With the thought of sleep the words echoed-‘I am not   thirsty. Not thirsty ..’ Oh, there were the words of Hemraj, isn’t it? Hemraj of his village, a Chaudhari Patel.
“Alas! The world will reach the moon. Here things are as it is. No change for better?!”
Doctor pushed his mind. He rose from the chair leaving pen on the pad only. He continued to look at the scribbled lines on the pad, how complex were these lines, like the society itself.
To look at himself, he lowered his neck. He was startled .He had not changed the dress at night; he was still in the   formal dress. Moving two three steps ahead, he took toothbrush from the stand near the wash basin. He touched the brush bristles with fingers.   Sharp. He extended his hand to take toothpaste. He looked in the mirror of the wash basin. Moving closer  he looked eye to eye at his face. It was a bit red, the eyes smarted.
“Oh God, last night I didn’t sleep well. My bad luck!”
Then why this tooth brush? He had a   query and found an answer too. “I have to cleanse my mouth, isn’t it?”
He looked at his face in the mirror. Round face, pink, full cheeks, big reddish eyes, shapely nose, thin pink lips and fair complexion. He peered at his face. As if he were searching something, his gaze moved on his face. Once he shut his eyes and then opened. He blinked his eyes then again peered at the face.
“O.K.” I don’t find anything. There is nothing wrong. “Why this? After these many years too they behave the same?” he nodded his head, moving away from the mirror he again sat on the chair. From the chair he looked at the fridge on the left side of the room. As if he were mocking the fridge he smiled. As there was some rumble in mind, he came out opening the door of the room, continued to brush teeth. He came to lobby. There was three and a half feet parapet and there were stars in the sky. Below in the square there was light. Doctor stood on the second floor of the PG Hostel at door of room number forty. He took two steps back and craned his neck. He read room number twice, thrice. Forty. There was a name. ‘Dr.D.B.Parikh.’  Yes, Dr.D.B.Parikh. Exactly the same. Nothing around. ’then what?’ doctor had a query. Doctor shifted his gaze. He began looking at the square holding  parapet of the lobby. In the light of the lamppost the square was visible clearly. At the end of the square was the gate leading out of the compound. In the corner was a water tap. He stared absent-mindedly for some time at the tap that was dripping,. A bee came from somewhere and began buzzing around the tap. He attentively looked at the bee. He was ill at ease; hence he went to the room and sat in the chair. From chair he looked at     the ceiling fan. All the three wings were motionless.
“Parikh Saheb, why is the room   open?” Maharaj from hostel appeared with tea and breakfast.
“You   sit with brush in the hand. Oh, are you ready with changing dress or what? And brush in the hands? Its half past five, Sir!”
Maharaj was a talkative man, Dr.Parikh was surprised.
“Half past five, my luck! What’s the matter?”
Doctor stared at   Maharaj. He   nodded.
“Maharaj , you? Where is the boy?”
“Dungarpuriya may come today, and go away tomorrow. One cannot rely on them. We have to care for you, isn’t it?”
Doctor smiled but pale smile.
“Why are you ready so early? Are you going somewhere? Yesterday night you had guests, isn’t it? Were you awake till late?”
“Yes, I had guests; I have not yet taken bath. I hadn’t changed at night.”
“Is it so? The guests were from where?”
Doctor was irritated. He did not feel like   answering. The question was bitter for him. To get rid of the sticky   Maharaj, he said, ”Keep tea and the breakfast on the table. I shall brush my teeth. If you wish to leave its O.K. .I shall take breakfast little later.”
“They seemed from village. I saw them going back...”
He had terrible pain, as if of a blow of a sword. He nodded, eyes reddened more, bitterness was added to harshness in his voice.
“They were from my village.. Of my own village.”
The words echoed hammering on his mind.” The one who just left was a  Brahmin !  Maharaj! He came to my room itself with tea and breakfast. And those… idiots..  Blockheads like bullocks.”
Doctor muttered. he took cup of tea, it was cold. He removed the layer on the tea with finger. Under the layer, this cold tea! He looked at the tea. Its color was slowly changing. Red , red. He blinked his eyes. The redness didn’t go. He dipped his finger. Totally frozen red, red blood, without any movement, stagnant. Why this blood is not flowing? Why since yesterday, he has this urge to throw away the cup? Rather than throwing the cup away, he clutched the cup; everything was revolving round and round. He shut his eyes. Is it the effect of last night’s insomnia?
“No,no, it’s not so.” He had kept awake several nights for studies. Then why so ? He slowly opened his eyes. He looked at the tea in the cup. There was sudden upsurge, as if the tea will overflow. He covered the cup with his palm. As if he reached the gate of surgical ward.
“Hemrajbhai, Velo has gone to call the doctor somewhere.” Hemraj’s  bhabhi was informing Hemraj.
“Whom?”
“He belongs to our village. Dayo of Bhalo.”
“Bhalo?”
“That Miyor. The last house in the Miyor vas. His son is a big saheb here.”
“I had forgotten that.”
Doctor trembled. He rose from the chair, put the cup on the table. He went to wash basin, opened the tap, took water in hollow of palm and sprinkled on his eyes twice, thrice. Then he looked at his face in the mirror.
“Oh, these eyes have grown red. Oh, yes, I had heard it with my own ears.”
Doctor blabbered something irrelevant. He again went and sat in the chair.
“Dayo of Bhalo! I am Dayo of Bhalo.I am doctor but I am of course, Dayo of Bhalo. Whole village knows me with that name only. And what about my being doctor?”
He smiled bitterly. Tightening his lips he nodded as if he were under the load of thousands of tons. He looked at the ceiling. His body was   cold, frozen.
‘ I,  Devendra?  Devendra of Bhalabhai! All people here know me by that name only. All the people call me Doctor Parikh, including that Maharaj. Bloody uncivilized Chodhra…”
He sat there without uttering a word.
“I changed my surname from Parmar to Parikh, at that time my father too was annoyed.  His displeasure was not without reason.”
Doctor had a constant ringing in the mind. How   would he know what his father suffered? Once he was out of village, then his mother had talked about it.
 ‘Son, When you changed your name and surname, Sarpanch was furious with your father. Not only Sarpanch, whole village was talking foul.”
“Why?”
“You changed your surname from Parmar to Parikh that is why. Who can stop the whole village? One day your father had gone in the village. Sarpach met him. Then what to say? He said,’ O Bhala,You have turned into Patel? Your father said,
‘”Why Sarpanch Saheb, Why do you a talk like this?”
“Then what to tell, you tell me”.
‘”Was that so?”
“Yes.” Doctor’s mother further said,
“Your son has become big doctor, isn’t it? What is his surname?”
“Parikh.”
“Is that so? Parikh saheb! He has turned into Bania Brahmin, isn’t it? He has ceased to be a Dhedh. Come to the chora, I will spread out a cot in the chora to offer you a seat, come o father of a saheb!”
His humiliated father’s shadow in that village was growing larger and larger and possessed his mind. His pink face reddened. What an inhuman behavior? Oh! When the Sarpanch’s son was ill, the same Sarpanch standing before that last house how he begged. Hemraj’s elder brother stood there with folded hands.
“Doctor Saheb, my Parthido! Please save him. Something terrible has happened to him. Where can I go at night? Please visit our house…he has convulsions..”
The begging words and face of Sarpanch   shaped a scene..
With his treatment Parthi was all right within two days. Sarpanch had accepted his wrong.
“Doctor saheb, I had misbehaved with Bhalabhai, please forgive me with a large   heart.”
He is the same Dayo of Bhala. Doctor smiled pale. He stared at the cup. The tea had turned brown, like blood that is frozen. The tea was changing colors. This red, like blood..
Only yesterday he had requested Dr. Desai.”Doctor, this patient belongs to my village. Please take extra care. He met with an accident.”
“Don’t worry, doctor. he needs urgent operation. The boy has bad injury. We will need blood.”
“We have given two bottles”, he heard Hemraj.
“That is not enough.” Hemraj was nervous.
“No problem, Dr. Desai, I will donate one and they have already deposited two in the blood bank.”
“Saheb, will you give blood?”
“Yes,  why not?  You are mine, of my village.”
“Well , Dr. Parikh!”
Tears rolling in Hemraj’s eyes seemed now mocking him. A terrible mockery! Blood of the same Daya Bhala . It is O.K. for Hemraj’s son, surely it’s all right. Hemraj had not objected to it. Miyor’s blood to son of a Chaudhari!  With rage tears mingled in his eyes. He had a panic as if his heart will fail. He clenched his fists, shut his eyes. He was drenched with perspiration all over. He rose from the chair and moved to and fro in the room. His mouth dried, he stood before the fridge. He opened it, took water pot out. He undid the lid and raising it began to drink water..
While drinking water his eyes went to the glass full of water, it was there since yesterday night. He stopped drinking water. he peered at the glass.
‘Yes. it’s the same glass. The very one! The one offered to Hemraj, of cold water, emptied from the pot. Hemraj!”
He muttered.
“Please have this cold water. What a hectic operation!  At last, it’s successful. Now there is nothing to worry about. He has been brought to the surgical ward. His aunt is with him. He is conscious now.”
“It’s only because of you, Doctor Saheb!”
“If I cannot help people from my village, how can I call myself of that village, isn’t it Hemraj uncle?”
“Yes, brother, of course!”
“it’s seven or eight. I shall ask Maharaj to bring food.”
“No, no, we do not have appetite.”
“Then this water..!” Doctor offered the glass.
“I am not thirsty, I don’t want, ” Hemraj and his two companions   uttered in a chorus.
Doctor stared at the glass as one would at a ghost. Echoes resounded in all directions, ‘I have no thirst’, ‘I have no thirst’..
Continuing to stare at the glass he put water pot in the fridge. He walked back   and slumped in the chair. He closed his eyes. Those three turning into shadows began dancing before his eyes. Terrible, discordant, callous laughter…oh.    Those shadows slowly were coming out of room number Forty. The shadows crossing the lobby climbed down the staircase. Doctor’s eyes continued to watch. Reaching the square they looked around. The tap is dripping.tip..tip.. Water is dripping. No one is watching. One by one, the shadows with their cupped hands drink water at the tap.

The sound grows louder and louder. In the waves of sound the doctor begins to tremble. He had unbearable pain as if his veins of brain might burst. Everything was colors red and yellow. His eyes began rolling behind the lids. As if someone had pierced his aorta with a needle, there was flood of his blood. As if, his heart would burst. Doctor opened his eyes. He rose from the chair, swiftly opened the door, came to the lobby, he held the parapet with both the hands. With wide open eyes he looked at the tap. The tap was dripping…as if his blood was dripping.. He screamed, extending his hand, he struggled to stop the drip of his blood.

Notes:
Saheb= Sir
Miyor= tanner caste , dalit community
Dhed= dalit community
Maharaj=Cook, usually Brahmin
Sarpanch= village head
Chora= public place of village
Chaudhari, Bania, Brahmin= so called high castes
Bhabhi= sister i

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