Friday, December 2, 2011

'I first'

It must have been my 32nd or 33rd week of pregnancy. I experienced a fleeting pain in lower abdomen, very like the pangs that people with gastric complaints are familiar with. On a normal day I would have dismissed it, but this was the time you took every little sign given by the body seriously. The next morning, the pain not having abated, I decided to consult my gynaecologist.

There were many patients waiting at the hospital. I was restless, uncomfortable and worried, but the difficulty was not severe enough to make me barge into the Emergency or to the Doctor's room. I must have waited for three quarters of an hour for the patients who came first to finish their consultation. The girl whose turn came right before mine was at ease, chatting (in Malayalam) and laughing with her parents and brother, that I ventured to ask her, "Can I go in before you? I am in pain...Vedana aayittu vannatha..."

The girl, without a moment's hesitation, snapped, "No. I am in pain, too."

Shocked and distressed, I said "OK" and sat down. When her turn came, she went in followed by her family, as my wait continued for another 15 or 20 torturous minutes. When they came out, the brother whispered to me as he passed, "Sorry." I went in, almost collapsed, and the Doc started me on IV, but that's a different story.

Why the girl responded as she did remains a mystery to me, but of course she was entitled to it. In fact, the hospital followed an ancient 'First Come' system without any intervention from anyone (no token or registration, relying only on people's good sense) that some people who came late just walked in, ignoring the others.

Maybe the girl was tired of waiting. Maybe she really had some difficulty. Maybe she thought I just made up the story about the pain.



  1. We encounter all sorts of these kind of people everywhere, no? Buses, flights, traffic, queues... Those with least disregard to everyone else and those who think they and their ego rule the world. A bit of kindness spared on fellow beings is almost considered taboo. I have had numerous experiences like this, the latest one guy who had to go on a train after 2 hours did not allow me in front of him to take a ticket for the train standing on platform, while I always allow such people to go ahead of me...

    The girl whom you encountered must be the same one who parks their car in the middle of the road or at the exit of the parking lot blocking everyone else.

    She of course had no pain, it is clear from the way she retorted. She must have though: "Who is this woman to dare ask me?" She must have never actually much lived in public to known how it is to behave with compassion towards others, the snob kind who must have traveled in school buses and cars only, and was taught to behave with contempt to everyone else. Reminds me of some characters Bindu Panicker portrays.

    I give an earful to these people whenever I come across such types.

  2. Did something similar yesterday while waiting for a cab. Felt bad later though.