It’s hard to describe the feeling you get when someone calls you ‘Doctor Sahib’ for the first time. I remember the first time it happened to me. I was in my third year at dental college, and along with my batchmates, started our clinical postings in college where we had to diagnose patients. However, this story is not about me. It’s about a batchmate of mine from South Bombay.
Our patients were mostly people for whom English was an alien language. However, that didn’t dim our enthusiasm one bit. We wanted our patients to arrive and we wanted to be the ones who would solve their problems.
We are at the clinic and the patients begin to walk in. We start examining the patients when we hear screaming. “Kaay! Hey karaawa laagnaar?” (What! This needs to be done?). A patient leaps out of the dental chair and runs to his elder brother. There is a lot of tension on his face and he is sweating.
What was the cause of all this? The patient had to undergo a root canal procedure. My batchmate (who is from SoBo) was explaining what root canal was and how would the whole thing take place. She tried it in English and Hindi but the patient understood neither. She tried her hand at Marathi. She tried telling him ‘nassacha iilaz karaawa laagnaar’ (the nerves have to be treated), she ended up telling him ‘nassbandhi karaawa laagnaar’ (a vasectomy needs to be done).
The poor fellow thought that my batchmate wanted to stop his future generations from coming into the world just because he couldn’t take care of his teeth. That was hilarious. We couldn’t stop laughing for such a long time. Our professors barred her from taking patients till she didn’t learn basic Marathi.
That was quite some time back. It’s fun to revisit those memories. They make us laugh and they remind us of a time when we were young and eager to conquer the world.
The Wisdom Tooth is a fortnightly column by Neil U. Mitra. Mitra is a practicing dentist in Mumbai. He has his clinic at Bandra where he takes time out to write for us after he finishes his day’s work. You can reach him at www.mitrasdentalspeciality.com