It was an average sized hall, with large Italian tiles for floor and murals on the walls. The false roof was low enough to give an impression of cosiness without making the hall seem stuffy. The lights were appropriately ‘disco-esque’, and there was even a DJ at the far end of the hall with a small area of the hall cleared to double as a ‘dance floor’, for people who wanted to shake a leg. The near end of the hall, near the entrance, was set up to be the bar with a long bar table running almost the whole width of the hall. Along one wall of the hall, running almost the whole length of the room, was another set of table which would be used to serve food later. The hall was suitably decorated with flowers, balloons, and paper frills.
I stood near the bar, nursing my drink, and looking on. Vaishali was moving around mixing with her friends, talking, laughing. The children had, for the time being, found themselves the company of some kids and were busy devouring the delicious snacks being served, and chatting noisily, straining their vocal cords, trying to be heard above the din of the music.
Hitendra walked over to the bar, and stood by my side for a while. We chatted about our professional lives, the dilemmas we face as clinicians, the ethical issues facing the practice of modern medicine in our times, and how our respective practices had meandered around, and where were they headed now? I had always remembered Hitendra as a nice, well behaved boy but now, talking to him, I was amazed to hear how much his thought process sounded like mine.
After we downed another couple of drinks, we were sufficiently inebriated to indulge in a bout of dancing. I danced with Vaishali for some time, and then pulled the other girls in. Soon, we had a racket going; everyone was laughing, and dancing, and cheering others. The kids looked on amusedly, as the dance reached a tempo, and then died down as we tired ourselves out, our age showing. The motley group scattered, and I headed towards the kids, where Vaishali had already seated herself, tired after the dance.
‘Shall we have dinner?,’ I asked her, looking at my watch; it was getting late, and we had to drive back tomorrow; all good things must come to an end, no? I had enjoyed this trip, and had no complaints. And since this was my second trip within an year, this one had been really memorable. Having our own vehicle with us had been an added advantage since we had driven along the roads of the city, and explored the city as well as the university campus like we had not been able to do last time. This trip, in a way, had complemented, the last one. And there had been no ghosts this time to torment me, just sweet memories, and a longing to live the past again, only this time maybe I will make less mistakes…….
Yes, the trip could have been better, I could have met my teachers, gone to the department, visited the wards, and the post-operative Cardiac surgery ward on the first floor where Prof Lahiri used to come for his rounds at 7AM. Maybe, I could have even peeped into the Operation theatre complex once more, where I had spent countless hours learning surgery and assisting the professors. I could have even visited the OPD area, the cramped room on the ground floor where the surgery OPD was, and the small, but airy room on the first floor on the right side where the PAC clinic, and the Cardiac OPD was, and where I had spent nine months with my guide, my supervisor, Prof T K Lahiri.
Yes, there was a lot that I could have done, but maybe I will keep it for another time for Varanasi will call again. Also, one must have something to look forward to, no?
The night was cold, and we snuggled in early. We would be getting up early tomorrow to pack, and then leave for Lucknow.
To be continued………..
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