The African Luna Butterfly lives only for a day. In that day, she finds time to eat, sleep, drink and mate!
The butterfly story...
Medicine is a weird profession. People who aspire to become doctors should wear a chastity ring. It's only in Grey's Anatomy, I mean the series, not the book, where doctors keep hooking up with each other. In reality, doctor boys are really boring.
I know some girls find them hot, but they are boring for doctor girls. They are all the same - hardworking, intelligent and serious. That explains why doctor girls marry late.
In my case, that was a supplementary reason. In my case, most boys didnt like me. Maybe I was fat, or maybe I didnt wear fashionable clothes. Maybe I just wasnt attractive enough for boys. I thought I should study now, there will be plenty of time in the future.
The study time made me 28 years old. All my friends started getting married. The ones who werent married were either engaged or had a boyfriend. They went out on Saturday nights, while I did their emergency shifts. It was still better than sitting at home alone watching reruns of Friends and Seinfeld.
I was in the pediatrics department one such Saturday night. I was hungry so I went to the cafeteria. It was 2 in the night and the cafeteria didnt have a lot of people eating in there. I asked for Upma at the counter. The good thing about being a doctor is that you get immense respect. The lady at the counter was so sweet to me. The cafeteria is self-service usually but she served the upma at my table. I thanked her and inserted my fork inside the upma when I heard this guy call my name.
"Dr. Ragini?" I raised my head up. At the next table sat this guy. A doctor for sure. What department was he from! He didnt even have a name tag.
"Yes?" I said.
He got up from his table and came and sat at my table on a chair facing mine.
"It says 'self service' you know?" He said pointing at the 'self service' sign above the cafeteria counter.
"So?" I asked. Who was this guy? And why was it any of his business to point it out to me that I didnt follow the rules. Anyway, it was the cafeteria lady who came and served me. It was not my mistake.
"So? So nothing..." He got up from his seat.
I was confused and as a consequence angry.
"Wait... Who are you? What's your name? Where's your name tag?" I asked in a voice that is louder than permissible inside Hospital premises.
"I dont wear name tags. You souldnt be bound by names, no?"
Who was this crazy dude!
"Listen Doctor... I didnt break any rules alright.. It was the cafeteria lady..." I dont know why I felt answerable to him.
"Doctor Ragini, dont worry... Well, I need to run... I need to save lives," he said in a fake Superman pose.
"Wait! Which department are you in?" I asked, I dont know why.
"The surgery department. The 'real' doctors department. The kind who save lives." he said with arrogance.
"Well, I save lives too... I am in the Pediatrics department." He didnt even ask.
"Sure... you do... All of us do. But yeah, some of us are more important than some others," he said.
What a jerk! I thought
He went away and I spent the night thinking about him. Then I fell in love with him. Dont know how that happened... It just did... And luckily for me, he was head over heels in love with me too... It's a lovely feeling, isnt it?
We dated for a year. The best year of my life...
He proposed one day in front of the 'Gateway of India', one of the weirdest places to propose but flamboyant, just like everything else about him.
Then something happened which made me reconsider it.
Till today, I cant decide if I was right or wrong. If what I did was right or wrong. If I was too selfish. I was 29 years old. I wanted to get married. I had found a guy who loved me.
Akki, sweetheart, if you are reading this... I am sorry...
Being a Doctor sucks sometimes. It's not like they show on 'Scrubs'. You should watch it if you havent already, it's really funny.
Talking bout funny, I met this girl Dr.Ragini in the cafeteria. And I was such a jerk to her. I dont know why. But she seemed so nice, you had to mess with her.
She wasnt very good looking. She was what you would call plump and had a very simple way of dressing. But there was something very genuine about her. There was nothing bout her that was made-up.
I think I feel in love with her. I think you love someone based on not how they are but how they make you feel when you are with them. She made me feel good, funny and well uber cool!
Like the first time she asked me where my name tag was, I made this stuff up about how people shouldnt be made to wear a name tag. The truth was, I was new in the hospital and they hadnt given me a tag yet!
We dated for a year. The best year of my life...
When I proposed to her a year later, she said yes. There are very few words which can make you feel happier than a 'yes' from a girl you love.
We were supposed to get married in 3 months when she started to behave weird. She had been sick intermittently for sometime, but she assured me that it was nothing serious. I had known her to be increasingly honest, so I took her word.
I should have investigated more.
One month before our wedding day she asked me,
"Akshay? What if I die, say 6 months into our marriage?"
Women I tell you! Getting married is subscribing to a lifetime of silly questions.
I asked myself how would I feel if she really died in 6 months... It was a morbid thought, but for that moment I did think of it...
"Those will be the best 6 months of my life." I said. I meant every word.
We got married. Those were the best 6 months of my life.
She had thyroid cancer. It is hard to detect. Usually its a benign tumour and it is possible to cure it. But her tumour was malignant. She knew about it. She decided to spend her last days with me. She really loved me.
I read her letters she wrote for me in advance. Everytime I read those it feels she's just sitting next to me, saying those things- describing the way we met, the way I proposed, the wedding night...
Her not being here is nothing to be sad about.
She lived a butterfly's life.
People like to think she died early... I like to think she lived for a year...
Editor in chief arshat chaudharyCurrent Issues: Doctors, short story