"Do you have elective cases lined up for this week?” my friend asked. "Why?no!" I answered as he was driving towards medical college after our lunch. "So, why don't you join me for my batch meet in Davangere?"
"Hey S, it's YOUR batch meet, and what am I going to do anyway?"
“Saravana, just come along with me, batch meet is only on Saturday and we will be leaving on Thursday. Let's get out of the routine here. Everything free, food, accommodation and booze. Call up your wife and tell that we are going as examiners there".
I replied “I’ve stopped my stint with alcohol and this is not the time of university exams, moreover I haven't planned anything. Department, home and clinic"
"Fine, I won’t force you to booze. Keep track of bills, drive for us and get to know about my friends. You won't leave this place if you make big plans. Now take your mobile and call Meena."
We started driving towards Davangere on Thursday morning, though I told Meena about the batch meet and asked her to cover-up on behalf of me for my parents citing exams.There was a message from her as we sat for lunch in Davangere. “Good riddance, it’s raining heavily here. Salem wanted you to move away for it to rain".I replied back. “It is raining here too. A welcome rain in my native land!”..
We were, by that time in a bar and restaurant. The unwinding had already started. Davangere is known for good cuisine. I was surprised at their (we were 4 of us who travelled) capacity to down the pegs. Short break in the evening and followed by fresh round of water and food in the night. Old memories retold, trips, failures, (academic as well as those related to heart) teachers and the anxiety of meeting old classmates with their spouses. The food was good and I felt sleepy with all the travelling.
|kids trying to avoid my photo in the temple.|
The next day morning was spent in going to a nearby temple and church and the college, hostel and library. By afternoon, the sessions started. I was wondering whether this was a sort of escape from not able to drink at home front. I felt a little out of circle that day. Three more joined us in the evening. Some seemingly having a disturbed personality-Two unmarried and searching for bride at 38 years. One recovered from drugs with great effort from his wife and another still continuing with drugs. The next morning during their actual batch meet , I went off to Hubli to see my friend.
All these were discussed while driving back home with the one who talked a little philosophy. Philosophy was my turf and we had a long discussion. He then admitted that he was divorced after 3 years of marriage and that he went into sort of major depression.
Now, what prompted me to write about the events was the reading of “The catcher in the rye” a novel by J.D.Salinger. The novel was banned several times for its explicit and supposedly demoralizing theme. But then, it is a novel about a youth in his adolescent years trying to cope with a harsh world outside. There is lot of cynicism, bigotry and negative attitude towards life, so much so that I was waiting to finish the seemingly depressive novel. Ultimately the lead character ends up in a rehabilitation centre after a nervous breakdown. It appears that he was desisting his transformation into an adult or maybe he still reveled in his poignant reminder of childhood innocence.
Once I put down the book, I went into deep thoughts, about my own younger years, and of those people whom I met recently. Habits which were picked up in medical school had not been curtailed. I don’t intend to be judgmental, but there has to be a period when we need to get along with life. Sometimes the downs lock us for prolonged periods. More disturbingly, I could see such traits in some of my students now and all I can do is just observe.