A nice, old and sleepy centre stood among the hills, almost hidden by the tall green trees. It had taken almost three hours to reach here. Approximately, half of the journey was along roads; which were being broadened. Thick trunks of trees lay along the road on either side, cut and left there to dry. It pained me no end. They must have stood for fifty years or more perhaps, providing shade and oxygen. Will we able to grow such trees again? All were being sacrificed at the altar of mindless development.
In one place, a JCB was being used to cut a tall Euclyptus tree. It had raised its claws almost vertically and was cutting onto the higher part of the tree. The cuts looked greenish and sap was running out of it. I felt as if it was bleeding with these superficial cuts. Few cuts with the axe and it would not be so painful perhaps. They too deserve some respect in their last moments. To top it all, people had crowded around the JCB and were laughing. I missed out completely on the mirth. I had become one with the tree.
The centre was crowded with patients. But there was no dearth of sitting places. Thick roundrels of tree trunks of different colours, about one foot high each, were placed everywhere, neatly arranged along the walls.
” I just told my staff to go and collect a few tree trunks from those lying on the road and got them cut. They look nice, isn’t it?” The Incharge of that Centre asked me.
“Yes, they do. It’s a pity so many trees are being cut like this.” I told him.
” The roads have to be made broad. How long will we travel on these narrow roads?” He said.
” Hmmm. We did not meet many vehicles on the way.” I told him.
” Have you seen the road which is made already? A four lane road for us to zoom away.” He said, happily.
“Ya, a four lane modern road leading to a village like small town.” I said quietly.
He stared at me, shrugged his shoulders and moved off.
We rapped up our work in another five hours or so. My staff had become very deft in their work. Such was the dedication that, one of them held a urine sample of a patient in his left hand while grabbing cookies with another during tea break.
I ticked him off.
” Do not come near me with that kind of a spectacle in your hands next time.” I told him.
“I will have to test this for sugar.” He answerwd, smiling broadly.
In the midst of all work, ten minutes time can be solely dedicated to nourishing this temple of a body, isn’t it?
When we started back, the sky was still bright. Along the way, the sky turned a dark orange and then started fading. Lots of JCB’s remained suspended in the hills, hanging precariously, clawing at the brown soil repeatedly. I thought they looked like the extinct Dinosaurs of yester years; ferocious and monstrous. I craned my neck outside the window to have a better look at them. They seemed to defy gravity, hanging miles above us like that…
A particular red coloured huge one, loomed above us at a distance, atop a hill. The moment our vehicle reached near it, it suddenly made a one hundred and eighty degree turn and lurched downwards towards us at a great speed! We all yelled in fright together. The huge claws had almost picked us up along with the vehicle by then.
It then suddenly came to a stop. After releasing us gently, it turned upwards, back to work.
” Sorry….it was the Handyman driving.” Someone yelled from the hills.
It was turning dark. We were more than relieved and happy to be on the road again. Even though we reached home safely in another two hours; my heart kept jumping wildly within. What a day it was!
The next day; I was narrating that incident most solemnly to my colleagues in the Doctor’s room, near the operation theatre. General, Orthopaedic surgeons and Ophthalmic ones came for a tea break in between operations.
These guys laughed their hearts out.
” Really you provide us the much needed break. You go for an eye camp and on the way back, the JCB comes down and scoops you all up and puts you on a hilltop. Can you imagine how ridiculous that is?” One of them laughed helplessly as he said this.
” I did not go and sit on a hilltop inside a car. Do not exaggerate.”I retorted.
“News paper headlines. Dr Sapna left atop a tree on a hill. Coutsey: JCB.” Said another.
The scene came alive and vibrant in front of my mind’s eye this time, and all of us broke into a collective laighter. Finally with that, my heart beat became normal again and remained so for a long time.