If almost failing the Science exam was one thing, trying to pretend a heart ailment for bunking a Science unit test was the complete extreme of my actions. Every day, those who had to go to the General Hospital were lined up and sent after the Morning Assembly was over. So quite often, I would find some or the other excuse like eye-pain, eye-infection, sprain, allergy etc to somehow go to the hospital and thus be able to bunk the first period which was always default ‘Human Values’ except when there was an exam or unit test.(ironically I just hate anything to do with hospitals, and begin to nauseate immediately upon entering one due to the smell[however sterile the smell maybe, guess I just hate the sterile smell itself], however the two hospitals which are an exception to that list, are the general hospital and the super-specialty hospital at Parthi which I found to be strangely devoid of any of that horrible smell)
So one fine day, when I had run out any more excuses to bunk the classes by going to the General Hospital, I decided I had to somehow bunk the HV classes, and so set upon devising my next excuse to get to the Hospital. This would be my boldest attempt yet, at creating excuses. I decided(don’t know why I used to always think that when doctors put a stethoscope over yur chest and back and ask you to breathe in-and-out, they were simply trying to find some patterns, which I then believed, from my limited knowledge gleaned mostly from watching movies, that I could simply fake symptoms of some mysterious heart ailment), to change my breathing style into spurts whenever Doctor Aunty(Sunanda Aunty, of whom more will be described in the next standard experiences) closed her eyes to concentrate on the stethoscope or looked up or around while asking me to breathe.
So it came to be, that she gave me tablets for a few days, but I kept returning with the same complaint, a sharp pain in the lower part of my heart, specially whenever I do strenuous things like running or jogging or lifting my bed. She must have found it strange not to notice anything, but never mentioned anything to me. And after I came twice with the same complaint, she sent me to that long-awaited destination, General Hospital. I spent a good part of 4 HV classes on consecutive days, happily enacting the same drama over again for the doctors at General Hospital, who tried out a different medication on each day, and still couldn’t come up with what the ailment was, since they couldn’t find anything wrong, and I kept claiming there was some pain. So they decided to wait a week, and see if another medication they prescribed would bring about any change. As usual I took the tablets, threw them straight into the dustbin, happy at having bunked another class again(yes, since we used to get those tablets free, I never knew their value then).
In the meantime, some serious developments took place in the classroom. A lot of times, I had got delayed in the Hospital during those checkups and as a result had missed out on the 2nd period of most days, Science. This wasn’t a very good thing. Firstly because I was very very very interested in Science, and secondly, because the Unit Test we scheduled after 2 days, and I knew absolutely nothing to write for the Science Test. Probably the first time I hadn’t studied. I was terrified like hell, not for failing, but more for my image. I was generally regarded as quite brilliant and especially so at Science, which I really was, back then. I was afraid of what would happen to all that image if I failed this Test, which I surely would, if I was forced to write it. So I began weighing my options and found the only solution was to somehow bunk the Test, and the only possible way, was to get someplace that would eat up more time than the Science period to somehow get back after the Science period.
So I set the plan in motion by complaining the next day, of severe pain again, and was marched back to the Hospital, where the doctor must have decided either he must be dumb, or I must be mad. Whichever it was, he decided to put an end to this charade, and told me he was referring me to the Super Specialty Hospital for tomorrow, which was exactly what I wanted. My joy knew no bounds. At last I had somehow managed to bunk or atleast make sure I would bunk one single test in my life(sadly that was the last test I bunked, I never got to bunk another one all my life). I spent that night trying to rehearse how I would fake my pain tomorrow, because the tests were obviously going to be more exhaustive. In my limited knowledge I tried to devise a foolproof plan to fool people who were in that field for more than 15 to 20 years. I decided a strategy of alternating my breathing styles between fast, slow and gasps would be enough to solve the issue, specially if it was done in a manner of random repetition of each of these with seemingly no patterns between any two sets of breaths.(must have probably been one of the few people who put so much thought and effort into professionally acting sick)
The grand morning arrived, and I went around telling everybody that I would be bunking the Test today, since I had to go to the “Super Specialty Hospital”. And atleast for a few minutes they looked at me in awe, because most of them hadn’t ever gone in, only seen it from outside(me included, that was my first trip in, atleast I got to get in that way. After Assembly we left for the Hospital in the Ambassador, with Aarti Aunty driving, and soon reached inside. Since it was the first visit for us three students who had come, Aarti Aunty took around on a tour of the entire hospital, showing us some sights that left us spellbound for the rest of our lives(atleast the rest of my life). Soon it was the time of reckoning, and I was taken to a bed and made to wait till the doctor finished with the patient next to me. Then he came to me, asked me what my name and problem was, and took me into another room where there was only a single bed with a monitor(TV, didn’t know the word Monitor then) in front of it. My shirt was taken off, and a green gel was applied all over my chest, and he had a kind of rubbery sponge handle that he moved over my chest all the while looking at the screen, asking to breathe in different styles. I saw some gibberish lines moving across the monitor, as well as a representation of my heart and the way it changed its beat each time I breathed differently.
So I set about the ultimate challenge, fooling the experts in their own field without even having any knowledge about it. I thought it definitely put the doctor off the track, since he kept asking me if was breathing the way he was asking, and he kept putting a serious expression through it all. Then after about 3 or 4 minutes which seemed to last atleast an hour, he told me to put on my shirt, and leave. I asked him, what my problem was. He replied in the sweetest way I ever knew of somebody seeing through my game “the problem with you is, you have absolutely no problem”. However my feelings were, the one person whose face didn’t hide any signs of relief was Doctor Aunty. So we began the journey back. I kept praying Aarti Aunty would drive more slowly, because I had no idea what the time was, and whether the test was over by now or not. Finally I reached the classroom just in time, to find Beena Maam leaving the class with all the answer papers. That day I really believed I would never see a happier day in my life.
to be continued… … …