The lobby of the most famous government hospital in Pune was almost desolate. And then it was not. A cacophony erupted towards the entrance where a pregnant lady was wheeled in along with a bunch of anxious relatives. I was watching them with interest. Their harrowed expressions, the frantic hand movements and the constant screams of the lady in question.

Suddenly, everyone went quiet as the doctor on duty arrived. Oh! What a beauty she was! I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. Her hair was tied neatly in a plait and a few tendrils framed her round face. She was tall and slender. Her white coat was crisp and bejeweled with the trademark stethoscope. She looked like she was in her early thirties. I wanted to see her smile.

Instead she yelled to no one in particular, “Get the OR ready stat! She’s in abruption and call the pediatrician on duty ASAP.” I did not understand one bit what her instructions were. But one thing stunned me. She did not wait for any help, rather she herself pushed the wheelchair and rushed towards the lift. I had a strong hunch that she was ‘the one’ for me.

I loitered in the hospital premises almost unnoticed and as the day passed, the place became busier. I was searching for that pretty doctor. I found a way to enter the doctor’s quarters on the top floor of the hospital and then I saw her again. She looked exhausted. I thought about contacting her, but then backed out just as she was about to reach me. I wanted to know her better first.

Over the next three days, I tailed her like a shadow. Her name was Pihu. Such a cute name, I thought. And when she smiled… she looked even more beautiful with those dimples of hers. I was in a daze with her beauty and I couldn’t bring myself to face her. I was waiting for the right moment.

I had decided to meet her during her lunch break. I had managed to find out where she dined. So, I followed her to her break room and just as I was about to enter inside, another woman entered. Luckily, she did not notice me. She left the door slightly open. I decided to wait and eavesdrop. Besides, I loved hearing Pihu’s voice. It was like music for my soul.

“Hey Sandhya, how’s your day going?” Pihu asked.

“So far so good.” Came the reply. “What about you?”

“Oh, don’t ask. I don’t know what’s wrong with Dr. Sinha since morning. She’s after me like a mad woman, Pihu do this and do that and what not. Damn, she’s making me work like a resident!”

“Relax Pihu, here take this, mom has sent puranpoli for you. She knows it’s your favorite.” Sandhya passed a box to Pihu. She continued, “Have you read the latest medical updates?”

Pihu started munching on the delicacy and nodded a no.

“Let me tell you then. There’s this new virus that is doing the rounds in the state. It’s called the ‘Sobo’ strain, as the first patient that was identified was from South Mumbai. And you know what’s special about this virus? It infects only those whom it wants to, like it has a mind of its own. There’s no age, gender or race predilection. No mode of spread identified too. And it causes different symptoms in different people! Some die due to hemorrhage, some are left paralyzed and some are left vegetative. The researchers are baffled.”

“Crap!” Pihu said. “Thank God, it’s not in our city yet.”

“Yes, seriously. And one more thing. The administration might hire robots to assist in our surgeries, won’t it be exciting?” She said wiggling her brows.

“Hmm… hmm…” Pihu said distractedly. Her eyebrows were furrowed in thought.

“Dr. Pihu Asrani! Are you even listening?”

“Oh yeah. I’m taking a leave this weekend, going for a trek to Kalsubai.”

Sandhya looked at her gob smacked. “How do you even have the strength for that? I’ve heard it’s difficult.”

“It is. And besides, Aditya’s going to be there too!”

“Be careful though. He’s known to be a womanizer being the hotshot plastic surgeon that he is.”

I instantly got more attentive when she mentioned this new name. Aditya. I needed to up my game. It was high time I approached her.

Two days passed and I still failed to keep up with my resolve of approaching Pihu. And now, I was following her to trek the Kalsubai. I hoped I survived this. I had never been trekking all my life!

I kept myself way behind the group, but not too far lest I get lost. The ladder climbs were risky and the overall trek was too tiring. The group took a break and were drinking tea and eating pakodas which the locals were offering. I ventured to get slightly closer to Pihu.

She was constantly trying to get the attention of a tall, handsome man who was talking to another girl. ‘This must be Aditya,’ I thought. ‘What a prick.’ I wished that I would be in his place. I felt really bad for Pihu.

The climb resumed and after a grueling four hours, we finally reached the summit. There was a temple there. Everyone got busy clicking pictures and I saw Pihu going away from the group. She looked upset. She sat at the edge of the cliff. It was a beautiful view.

‘Now is my chance,’ I thought.

I went and stood behind her at a little distance and glanced around. The coast was clear. She stood up, dusted her pants and turned. She was looking at her feet and did not even notice me. Yet, I reached her and hugged her. After I was done, she collapsed into me.

I, the ‘Sobo’ virus had finally found residence in Pihu and I would make her my vegetable forever!

***

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Written by Arva Bhavnagarwala

In between being patient with her two boys and seeing patients as a pediatrician, Arva manages to scribble a few words here and there. The words turn into stories and she gets an adrenaline rush when the stories strike a chord with the readers.