“Sit quietly!” I said, “Giggling? You idiot.” It was Bablu this time. The most notorious of them all. To mind a class of forty 17-18yo boys is painstaking. But in my twenty-five years of teaching career, I find it most challenging now. They regularly tease me since they came to know about my ailment. I tell you, children nowadays lack morality.
The inflammation and soreness doesn’t allow to ensconce myself in that hard wooden chair. My frequent missing of early morning trains and then morning assembly came to headmasters notice. That day he summoned and rebuked me, “Poddar sir, don’t make excuses. Your late-coming habit sets bad example for our students.”
How could I tell him I’ve piles? He would giggle too behind my back. Like my students. Like the other teachers in staff-room. I tell you, people nowadays lack empathy.
That day, when I was returning home in Bandel local, I noticed this advertisement, which I otherwise ignore. It was written on the boundary walls of railway tracks in the boldest fonts:-
“GUPT SAKS ROG, PILES, BAWASIR- cure without surgery” Followed by just a number.
I realised that day, these diseases are so embarrassing that even the doctor didn’t mention his name. I could almost imagine him in a hooded robe, painting it on the wall at midnight, when nobody was around. It was intriguing. Concealing STDs, in a country where sex is a tabooed topic, is comprehensible. But when Indians boast about their spicy cuisines, shouldn’t the severity of piles be a parameter of their pride?
The desperate me, deboarded the train at that station. I called on that creepy number and reached that quack’s den. He gave me some medicines in tinted glass bottles. With utmost confidence he claimed it to be the panacea of my sufferings.
When I was crossing the bustling lane after leaving his chamber I almost bumped into Bablu.
“Of all the people in the world……” I cursed under my breath. I started concocting reasons in my head for my being there. “But, what is he doing here?” I watched him scurry into the crowd pretending not to have seen me. Or maybe he didn’t see me? Whatever, I felt relaxed.
I returned home and started taking the medicines. It did end my misery of standing for long hours because I was bedridden for a week after having those. That was when my family coerced me to consult a real doctor and get the surgery done.
After a month of undergoing the surgery, which finally cured me, I entered the classroom with aplomb. “Goodmorning, Poddar sir.” The synchronised voices felt so mellifluous.
That’s when I noticed Bablu at his usual last bench, but with unusual uneasiness. I was about to begin with the chapter but his frequent shifting on his seat distracted me. Who else could perceive the reason for his discomfort better than me? While turning towards blackboard I called him, “Bablu?”.
“Sit quietly!” I said giggling, “You idiot!”
GUPT SAKS ROG- usually written on the walls meaning sexually transmitted diseases
Photo By: Sara Bakshi
This is an entry for Five00-7, a writing event hosted by ArtoonsInn. Check out the event prompt and guidelines here: https://writers.artoonsinn.com/five00-7/