Well, there are some incidents we’ll never forget. Some of which get taller with time. And this one I’m going to write about is one of them.
Blame it on FinalYear, the universal explanation for all kinds of inexplicable behaviour, including inexplicable bouts of nostalgia. But… thing is… I’ve been hearing multiple versions of this tale, and I’d rather put down the facts once for all, ‘coz Truth By Repeated Assertion is a dangerous and effective device, and this is not one story which I’d like to develop add-ons and plug-ins.
Here goes… It was in my third semester, when my room was in the aisle, due to which cellphone signal I got in my room was pathetically minimal. I had to go out of the hostel block to have a conversation on the phone. So there I was one night after dinner, walking all around the Girls Block, around the mess, the Net Center, and near the gate, talking to Ma, telling her I’d almost stepped on a dog’s tail and got bitten the previous day. And just at that precise moment, this seemingly rabid dog nipped my calf.
I’d then started screaming, coz I’d read somewhere that that’s a way to scare off dogs, trying to shake the beast off my leg and shouting into the phone that I’d got bitten. I ran in through the door, with everyone I met on the way asking me to wash the bite, and my phone lost signal. I did wash it, and discovered that it was more or less a superficial bite, the mongrel hadn’t drawn any blood. My neighbor Nam took charge, and said we’d go to Suratkal.
By now, my parents had panicked, and adding to the confusion was the fact that I was not reachable. I met my roommate on the way going to S’kal, and filled her in, and said I’d be back soon. I was wrong then.
I later learnt that Ma and Pa panicked more than they ever had at that moment, and called my roommate, who had a bit of a job comforting them, allaying their fears of improper medical attention a bit. Their fears were not unfounded.
At Suratkal, we found that Chirashree, one of the hospitals was closed…. God! It was only 9 PM! With no other alternative, we went towards my impending doom, to Padmavathi.
Without doubt, this is the worst possible place for medical attention. The doctor and the nurse there cleaned the bite, and administered a tetanus shot.
“Was the dog rabid?” the Doc asked.
“Yes… no… I don’t know”
“You teased it?”
“It bit me for no reason”
“Hmm… then… it must be rabid”
I sedately nodded.
“You know, may-dum, you can just not say what might happen in such a case. I can give you Rabipur and get it over with, but even if a rabid dog’s saliva touches your skin, you can be sure of getting the disease.”
“So, to be on the safest side, I suggest you take a course of Immunoglobulin.”
“It will cost a lot, may-dum”
“Sixteen thousand rupees only. And it has to be done as soon as possible”
WTH WTH WTH. I don’t think me and Nam together would have this much in the bank!
“I.. er.. need to discuss this with my parents….”
*Voice Lowered* “May-dum, if you want, you can sue your college. It happened on your campus only, no? If you want, we will offer to fight your case”
“…and … er… with my Warden”
“Don’t make late, may-dum, it’s rabies we are dealing with”
“..and my family doctor”
So I made a call home, my parents had gone straight to our doctor there.
Dr. Ravikumar, a doctor in government hospitals who delivers babies for Rs. 25, treats dehydrated and malnutritioned children for Rs. 10, giggled when he heard of the incident. He laughed out loud when he heard about the immunoglobulin and fell off his chair when I came to the part about suing the college. He asked for the Padmavathi doc to be put on the line; he wanted to have a bit of fun.
I don’t know what exactly went on there, but the S’kal doc was red-faced after that, and Dr. Ravikumar sedately told me to leave the place as soon as possible, and go to KMC. He further said Rabipur would have been sufficient even if I had been brutally savaged by a pack of dogs.
I then came back to the hostel, packed off a few things, and me and Roomie left for KMC. We were just in time to catch the last bus to Mangalore.
After half an hour of dealing with irate support staff, and interns with an irritating sense of humour and nurses who were so bored they laughed at the interns’ jokes, we were ushered into the presence of a doctor, who, weirdly, was tall, dark and handsome. He assured us that there wouldn’t be any problem, he knew it was imperative we don’t try rushing back to NITK at this late hour, he’d ensure that we’d get to stay the night here, and anyway, we had medical insurance provided by the college.
That’s what we did, and I was released the following morning and got back in time for my classes. I was beseiged with many “How are you now??”s, and rabies is a slow disease that doesn’t give any initial symptoms and I was on an anti-rabies course now, I couldn’t think of anything to say other than “I’m fine… man, the Doc was goodlooking” completely shocking the hell out of the enquirer who might have assumed I had a night of pain and turmoil (nothing could be farther from the truth. I had a most peaceful night with none of the usual hostel noises – someone playing Himesh throughout the night, or Pehla Nasha, or someone celebrating a birthday).
The incident also ruffled a few feathers, and the GB III Block got swing doors to keep dogs out, something we’d been asking for for a whole semester. I’m also not so scared of dogs anymore, and my faith in Denim’s ability to reduce the intensity of bites has increased manifold. But more than anything, it brought me closer to my friends, and also gave me something nice to remember III Semester by, apart from the tumultuous, monotonous highway to hell it was, otherwise.