The doctor’s reception lobby was rather quiet that morning. The room was pristine and was painted in a rather dull shade of grey. It made sense for the room to be that sober. Patients were used to walking in with pain and possibly walking out high on pills.
The receptionist was a young lady of maybe thirty. Tall, composed and pleasant with a voice that matched all her traits. The calls weren’t pouring in and the room was as silent as it could be. The doctor was seeing a patient and that meant I had to sit around for a while. It suited me proper. It was one of those ‘Bring your kids to work’ days. Gladly I obliged. In fact, I was happy that the kid was around. I had all intentions to make the best use of that time. It wasn’t everyday where I got to hang around the kid and see how his life was shaping up. When you are ten years old, life does shape slow and steady.
We found ourselves seated in the waiting area. The cold metallic arm rests , cushions that were used aplenty. It wasn’t the best seating experience. I guess it couldn’t be worse either. The kid had opted to carry his backpack. He had brought along his favourite comic book, a ruled notebook , his box of colouring pencils, and an activity book of sorts. It was the kind of book that had a motley mix of puzzles, join the bloody dots and colour fancy animals. It was serving its intended purpose of keeping young mind engaged and occupied.
‘So what are they teaching in school these days’ I asked in a hushed whisper.
I had managed to interrupt his adventures with the Spiderman comic. The kid didn’t complain. Slowly and gracefully, he closed the book and placed it obediently in his backpack. I respected that in the kid. He was meticulous and thorough. It was a sign of a trait that he’d inherited.
‘We are learning the ABCs of life dad’ he casually replied.
‘What that again? ABCs of Life? What’s that about?’
The book took a practised deep breath. It announced that he wasn’t new to the routine of explaining the things that he had learnt at school. I must admit, when I was in school, we didn’t have that ABC. The school that we went, it wasn’t particularly a mainstream one. It had requisites. It worked on the principles of first getting invited, then getting interviewed. The filter process was stringent. I still do find it amusing that the demand is a lot more than I thought there ever would be one.
‘ABCs dad. Always, Be, Composed’ he articulated each word slowly , emphasising their significance.
‘What does that mean anyway? I’ve not heard of that’
The boy was excited about explaining things. Maybe, in a different life, he could have been destined to be a teacher. Then again, it needn’t be a far fetched idea this life either. There were those of us who taught. Maybe he’d grow one day into being an exemplary teacher.
‘As my teacher says’ he paused to check if I was paying a close attention. I was. Satisfied with intent of keep interest, he resumed.
‘We will end up in a lot of situations in life. For example, what If I miss the morning bus to school? ‘
He waited for me to express a dramatic disbelief. This was a lot more practiced than I had anticipated. This was delivered almost as clinically as them brainwashers impart misguided propaganda. I played along with a show of shock
‘Yeah, so if I miss the school bus, Do I sit and cry? Do I feel bad? Or Do I safely walk back home and inform mum that I missed the bus? That is about always being composed. No matter what happens, one should always be calm and think about the list of things to do next.’
The kid delivered his explanation with a pedigree of pride that is usually observed in celebrities who receive prestigious awards.
‘That’s fantastic’ I said. ‘What else is new? Made any new friends’
The kid didn’t bother with a response. He slunk back into his chair and reached out into his bag to resume reading his comic book.
‘The Doctor will see you now’ the receptionist announced.
I smiled politely and thanked her for the update.
‘Listen, this shouldn’t take me long. Sit back and continue reading. ‘ I instructed.
As I was about to enter the doctor’s office, the kid called out.
‘Can we stop for a burger? I’m hungry’ he said meekly.
‘Sure kid’ and I gave him a thumbs up to confirm the itinerary.
With that done, I opened the door and slowly closed it shut. The door didn’t make a noise. I appreciated a well maintained building. As far as buildings went, this was a properly maintained one. I couldn’t find a reason to detest it. The doctor was seated in his chair. Pleasant chap. He was slim, balding and had a pleasant welcoming smile. I could see why he was a popular bloke.
‘Doctor Mathew ?’ I politely enquired. It was redundant at this point. I knew who the doctor was. I knew I was in his room. I was a creature of habit.
‘Yes, That’s me. How can I help you today’ he said.
I reached into my overcoat and pulled Trippy. Trippy was my favourite German. Silent, efficient and never failed to deliver.
‘Doc, I’m sorry that I’m the hand of god today. God wants you squashed’ I said as I pulled tripped out.
The good doctor sat dazed and confused. Most people who come face to face with a German made gun do tend to behave that way. I don’t think it’s any tribute to the German engineering. I think the make of the gun is immaterial. It’s just the gun, the shape and the immediate thought of death that freezes people over.
Phew, Phew. Two shots fired. Two shots silenced. The world left unaware of the drama that transpired behind a closed door. That was that. I collected the spent shells and pocketed them. That’s a wrap, I told myself silently.
I opened the door and closed it again gently. I sat next to my kid and pulled out a piece of paper from my other pocket. I asked my kid to lend me a pencil. He reached out into his bag and a quick search and a yank later, handed me one. The scanned for the good doctor’s name from the list. It wasn’t a long list. This month had been ok. The business does tend to slump a bit around this time of the year. I stroke off his name from the list. Number 8. Done.
I returned the pencil to my kid. I folded the paper and placed it back into my pocket again. The work for this month was done. The rest could wait.
The kid and I got off our chairs and as we were about to leave, I thanked the receptionist for the appointment. The kid stopped and as good manners mandated, he also smiled at the nice lady and thanked her. I was proud of my boy.
‘Them ABCs, that’s a mighty good lesson there kid.’
‘Thanks dad’ he responded.
Burgers were next.