Teeth For Tat

I looked around the waiting room; the walls were painted a dull yellow, which was ironical, since the person waiting beyond those walls would definitely choose white as his favourite colour. Directly opposite me, at a desk topped with a snazzy Dell, sat the pretty receptionist who took your calls and made your appointments, and beside her was the door which led to the actual chamber. The door had a sign which read ‘Dr. Ravinder Singh’ in big black letters, followed by twenty four of the twenty six letters of the English alphabet, which signified his educational qualifications. However, on closer inspection, it was revealed that fourteen of those twenty four were Ds, which was not surprising, since it was a dentist’s clinic I was trapped in.

If a list of the things which I detested was made, dentists would surely rank within the top three, for the simple reason that whatever they did was guaranteed to make you scream, and certainly not with pleasure. My date with the devil was ascertained when some vagrant germs decided to set up shop in one of my molars. For most people, charity begins at home. For me, it began inside my mouth, and without my permission.

They say music is a fine way to distract yourself; I had one of those fancy mobile phones which included a radio, and a few cheerful songs on the radio would surely help me stop thinking about my approaching predicament. The first channel I flicked on screeched ‘Aa khushi se khudkhushi kar le’. I changed the channel. Now it was ‘Cemeteries Of London’. Change. The third channel was hosting an hour long talk show on how to deal with cervical cancer.

I gave up.

And resigned myself to jiggling my feet, and occasionally glancing at the pretty receptionist, who was on the phone, laughing. Apparently she had no dentist appointments in the near future. My turn came, and I went through the letter-adorned door to the torture chamber, replete with a very comfortable push back chair for the blessed patient, and a humongous array of stainless steel instruments to be used on that selfsame patient, who would by now be trying to count his or her blessings. I sat on that oversized chair and tried to avoid looking at the arsenal of steel lying on the table next to me…

The doctor had a beatific smile plastered on his face, not unlike the Pope or the Dalai Lama. He was soft spoken and very polite. The more soft-spoken and cultured they are, the more ruthless they become. He made the customary ‘It won’t hurt at all’ statement, like celebrities liberally use the phrase ‘We are just friends’, whenever they are linked up with one another.

Sometimes I wonder if dentists follow Nazism. Hitler’s noble mission was to cleanse Germany of all non-Aryans, but his methods weren’t what you would call humanitarian. Similarly, the dentist in question produced a lethal looking syringe, and noting the less-than-delighted expression on my face, he said, “This is an anaesthetic, once you get a dose of this, you won’t feel any pain at all.” With which he happily jammed the needle into my jaw. Ironic, isn’t it….a dose of pain to put off further pain.

Anyway, next this man came up with a drill which made an annoying whiny sound whenever it was switched on. You can’t blame it, anyone would whine if they had to continuously enter cavity-infested mouths in various degrees of deterioration. It wasn’t very comfortable either. I censor the rest of the gory details, and will only venture to say that he cut, slashed, whacked, rubbed, pseudo-massaged and went through every motion possible within the restricted confines of my mouth. When he did finish, he had obviously satisfied his bloodlust for the time being, which was apparent from the big smile on his face like the people in toothpaste commercials. I tried to get up; the anaesthetic was still working, which gave me the feeling that the part of my face below the nose was no more. It was quite disorienting, and sadist that he was, he clapped me on the back in a way that suggested that I had returned from a successful moon mission.

He opened the door, ushered me out and called the next patient in, which was a nine or ten year old child bawling for all he was worth. His mother, along with the receptionist had taken up the useless chant of ‘It won’t hurt,’ and promises of ice creams and lollipops after the session was over. I went to him, and ran my index finger across my throat in a single slitting motion, and made some choking noises to get the effect right. The dentist himself had joined the Reassurance Team and he wasn’t exactly happy about this, and the three of them dragged him away, but my job was done. The kid started using his legs to good effect and delivered some fine blows to the kind doctor, while I cheered him on. Honestly, I wanted that boy’s autograph.

However, as I made my way home, one question kept pricking me.

Was I the Nazi?

Sushmit Mustafi

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