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People Watching

This happened about ten days ago. I accompanied my mom to the clinic as she had to take an ecg. While she was inside, I spent my time watching the other patients sitting patiently and some impatiently in the uncomfortable chairs outside the doctor’s room. Five minutes after we reached the clinic an old lady entered with a comical swagger. Comical because she did not seem to be in pain of any sort, did not look terribly sick. She looked pretty happy, did a happy jig and kept chattering some nonsense. The other patients including me were looking on amused.

She first went inside and registered her name with the doctor’s assistant. Then she said she came for an ‘oosi’ (Injection) cos she couldn’t sleep at night. This clinic provides free service to the under-privileged. The people are given free medicines and no consultation charges either. The lady went on to say that she tried all remedies she knew but couldn’t sleep.

“Seekiram koopidu kannu, oosi potta, veetula poi paduthuduven, thoonga,” (Call me quickly so that immediately after the injection I can get some sleep at home), she told the assistant. The amused assistant muttered something under her breath.

Meanwhile, another twenty-something girl with her 2-year old son walked in for a vaccination. She sat opposite the old lady. The child was making noises and the lady started copying the baby by crooning in her style. Then all of a sudden she asked the mother what was the name of her son.

Old lady: “Kolandai peru enna?” (What is your child’s name?)

Child’s mother: Sujan.

Old lady: Sujan..? Ithu oru pera? (Sujan? Is this a name?)

Child’s mother: Just looked amused and nodded.

Old Lady: “Alaga pragaasu nnu vechirukkalamilla” (Couldn’t you have named him Prakash?)

Then she muttered to herself…”vayila nolayira mari vechirukkalam” (It would have been easier on the mouth to pronounce)

Then the lady was called inside for her injection. She literally ran inside and after five minutes ran out holding and rubbing her thighs as though she was in pain, but all the while smiling and telling people that she was going to go home and sleep. She went outside and on afterthoughts, she rushed inside once again with a tumbler in her hand. She told the doctor’s assistant, can you give me some coffee, I also need to take a tablet.
“Can’t you have it with water?” asked the assistant.

“Un kaiyala kaapi kudikara mari varuma?” (Nothing to beat a cup of coffee given by you), she flattered, smiling wickedly, showing her paan stained teeth.

The assistant couldn’t contain her smile and said, “Just now u complained you couldn’t sleep, now you want coffee, how can you sleep?”
Meanwhile another assistant came and told the other one, “Just give her some coffee and get rid of her.”

The assistant then poured some coffee in the tumbler. As soon as she got it, the old lady said, “Danks” (Thanks) and as a parting shot said, “Itha ini naan aathonum!) meaning (Now I have to cool it)” which made all of us present break into laughter. The old lady finally called out a ‘danks’ after drinking the coffee and left.

When I read the topic for this week, I was immediately reminded of this incident. People watching is a favorite pastime especially when I forget to carry a book or my knitting. People watching people is happening here. Check it out if you want to know what people are watching. 🙂


One Response

  1. For a moment I thought this old lady is lousy. Then I thought when people visit clinics they are mostly grumpy and sad. How nice to see people who take things easily. Her positive vibes and humor indeed bring a smile in all the faces, including mine 🙂 Nicely written.


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