Last weekend as predicted, I ended up inside an eye hospital with my mother very late in the evening. I took up an appointment for a regular eye check-up at the reception desk, where a bespectacled man questioned me about my name and age. He announced that I would have to wait for next 20 minutes for my turn. Then as per the condition of my eyes and doctor’s treatment on them, it could further take maximum 2 hours. My mother became irritated.
“We won’t be able to catch any auto at night from here!” she frowned.
The receptionist looked at the pair of us mutely. He furnished a copy of the appointment and told us to wait on the first floor till my name was called out. We dragged ourselves and climbed the stairs. There was an elevator beside it but it was crammed with people. So we decided to ignore it and helped ourselves on the old-looking stairs. When we reached the landing, we saw why our appointment was so late. There were nearly 4 groups ahead of us, some sitting quietly looking after their wildly running kids while some had shut their watery eyes, tapping tissue paper on them time to time.
We sat for nearly 25 minutes before my name was announced by a lady in a white apron. I stood up and followed her. My mother decided to stay on her seat. We entered a room that had a do-not-disturb silence around it. I gulped and sat in front of a crystal white machine. The lady started fussing with the instrument, checked my original specs under a second machine and then asked me to keep my chin on a particular curved place on the first one. I obeyed and looked through the lens at a parachute in the center of a beautiful scenery.
“Now read these alphabets” she ordered after pulling back the machine in place and placing a thick looking black specs in front of my eyes. She covered my left vision and then I could only see from my right side.
“P O U J ….I m n k b……r z....z....arr....z …I can’t see further!”
I tried stretching myself further in an attempt to look at the last line of alphabets properly. The lady gently pushed me back on my chair. She changed the lens of the specs and ordered me to read again.
“P O U J ….I m n k b……r z t s b!”
She nodded and covered my right vision. Now I had to pass the test from my left eye.
“P O U J……I m n k b……r z…”
“Wait!” She ordered. “Have you by-hearted it or what?”
She changed the alphabets to numbers. I started it all over again.
“5….8 2 7 4…3 0….0…..0 6 1?…ummm..1….yes! That’s 1 for sure!”
She changed the lens. I tried again. I could read everything correctly this time. I realized that the last number wasn’t 1. It was 9. She pushed back the machine and I got to wear my original specs back. It took some time to get adjusted to my own vision.
“Your eye’s number hasn’t increased. It’s the same…” She stated in a bored voice.
“How come?” I frowned.
She demanded. “You wanted it to increase or what?”
“I am not able to see my computer properly. My eyes feel strained every time.”
“For how long do you sit in front of it?” She asked curiously.
“From 9am to 7pm at least every week day…”
“Huh? What do you do? Doing a job or what?”
“Yes, I am in IT…working at Infy….I mean Infosys.”
She gasped. Then recollecting herself, she spoke in a kinder voice.
“If anybody else too will sit in front of a computer for that long…it’s going to affect the eyes first...”
“But that’s not it. I am not able to read novels! Every time I read, I feel my eyes blinking and protesting. This is happening since last two weeks….. Means there is seriously something wrong with my eyes!” I said in utter frustration.
She blinked at this outburst. Then got up and asked me to follow her. On the way, she explained the further procedure involved. My eyes would be diluted in the next 40 minutes for the next retina check-up. We went outside and I was ordered to sit on my original place alongside my mother. I explained everything to my mum.
The next minutes were spent in my eyes getting bombarded with eye drops. The moment each eye drop hit any of my retinas, I felt my eyes getting more irritated and dabbed my napkin on them. A doctor came and handed me a tissue paper. I raised my hand and tried rubbing my eyes with it when I felt another hand stopping it.
“Don’t do that! You are making all those eye drops come out of your eyes!” My mother scolded.
I waited in complete darkness, occasionally taking a swift peek at my neighbours or opening my eyes for those brief moments to see a wheelchair going by, carrying an old person with one of the eyes surrounded by a large white bandage. One time I opened my eyes and saw a handsome man sitting in front of us. Even in my near blindness, I could see that he looked like those male models walking in Lakme Fashion Week ramp shows. I opened my eyes wider. I turned towards my mother and then at the other neighbours. Half of the crowd were watching and ogling at him distractedly.
“So handsome naa?” My mother giggled. She couldn’t resist from commenting. I nodded my approval. She suddenly turned and said in an exasperated tone,
“Beta….close your eyes! How many times shall I tell you?!”
When my retina had been ruined beyond destruction (they called it dilution), I went towards my final retina examination. A male doctor called out my name. My mother stood up and accompanied me this time.
I sat on a black tough stretchable seat and my mother on a normal chair at one of the corners. This doctor looked kind. He smiled and asked me what the problem was with my eyes. I rattled at top speed.
“I cannot see my computer properly. I cannot read my novels properly.”
“You have written a novel?” He asked, round-eyed.
“You said your novels you cannot read properly….?”
“I mean, once I buy novels, doesn’t it become mine? I cannot read them nowadays….”
He checked my retina. How workers go in deep underground mines with a bright torch on their helmets? Just like that, this doctor had some kind of brightly shining light coming from a thing that he had put around his head. He looked through it, flashing yellow shining light on my eyes till they became watery. After a few more minutes, the examination was over.
“Your left eye has some infection….due to season change.” He announced the inevitable.
Seeing my blank look, he explained further.
“Have you travelled anywhere in last 2-3 weeks?”
“Yes. I keep travelling every alternate weekend. From workplace to home and back.” I explained. “And onsite as well” I added thoughtfully in a whisper.
“Nothing….so this infection is due to travelling and the resultant season change?”
“It could be due to any other factor. Infection but it is. You need to take these eye drops for a month that I am prescribing right now and then you should be fine. If the problem persists, come back again.”
He handed me a medical prescription, upon which was written in an illegible handwriting, the names of those 2 eye drops that were going to be my best buddies for the next one month.
“If she eats lots of carrots and fruits, will her eye sight improve?”
I turned away from the opened door. The doctor looked up from his unattended files. My mother had finally asked her most important question for the day to the doctor. He looked surprised and answered after ruffling his hair with his right hand,
“It’s good for eyes but it cannot decrease the number of anyone’s eyes.”
My mother looked a bit disappointed. Consoling her, I stepped outside the examination room and bumped into the handsome man that we had led our blessed eyes on before. He had his watery eyes shut and was guided by another doctor. I had hit his right shoulder hard. He opened his eyes and glared.
“Can’t you see and walk?” He snapped.
I sighed and looked up at him.
“No I can’t. That’s why I came here you see?”