My seniors are getting decked up for the party. 

“How does this dress look? Is it too short?” One of them asks the other.

Ask me, I’ll tell you. I can see your gluteal fold. How will you sit?

“Relax, the shorter the better,” the other one replies with a wink.

“Tia, what are you doing here?” She looks at me with a murderous glare. “Aren’t you supposed to be in the ward completing your rounds? We are not going to adjust so that you can come to this party. You are the junior most and you have to slog it out here. We did that too…!”

I want to curse my seniors, instead I give them a sweet smile. “Ma’am, I only wanted to wish you both a happy doctors day.” And tell you that your dress is obscene and I hope it rips from behind by the time you reach there.

I turn to get back to the wards, sniggering. The annual doctors day party is a huge event at this hospital. Everyone is allowed to drop in at the banquet, a few meters down the lane, to enjoy for sometime and get back to work. I am keen to go too. But these women… Lord save their butts. Literally.

I have also heard that one of the trustees’ son who has studied from Harvard has returned and will be introduced as the new hospital administrator. And he’s a sight for the eyes! No wonder all these girls are taking so many efforts to dress up.

Sighing at my luck, I walk in to the maternity ward.

“Dr. Tia…” The nurse comes running. “Bed number 25’s water broke, please hurry.”

 Bed number 25. What a name.

I examine the patient in question and give orders for her to be shifted to the labour room immediately. 

“Don’t worry, Sheeba. You’ll be fine. You just have to push when we tell you to. Okay?”

An hour later, an exhausted Sheeba smiles when her baby girl is shown to her. I finish stitching her up and after sorting out the paperwork, I start my evening rounds.

Another 2 hours later, I’m ready to sleep. But sleeping, when on duty, is a luxury. And more so today, because everyone is enjoying themselves at the party.

There should be an earthquake and the banquet should collapse. But don’t kill that trustee’s son. I want to see him once. Decide for myself what the fuss is all about…

It’s 10 pm and I’m about to close my eyes for a power nap, when the nurse comes calling for me again.

“Dr. Tia, Patankar ma’am is calling for you…”

I’m up on my feet in microseconds. The head of the department wants to see me? A strict disciplinarian, her presence in the wards makes everyone in the hierarchy shiver. And now she’s calling for me, alone. What did I do?

I feel my heartbeat increase as I walk to her cabin, thinking about all sorts of excuses, should she reprimand me.

Taking a few deep breaths outside her cabin, I knock and enter. 

“Tia. All good in the ward?” She asks. 

“Yes, ma’am.” My voice comes out in a whisper. I rub my clammy hands on my kurti.

“Great. And has anyone of your seniors come back from the party?”

“No ma’am.”

“Youngsters these days… Never think of others…” She clucks her tongue and walks in the cabin. Then she looks at me, “It is our day today, you should go to the party and have some fun too. I’ll look after the ward. But come back before midnight, as I need to go back to the venue and give the vote of Thanks.” She says smiling at me.

I’m awestruck. My mouth opens wide and I close it realizing that I wouldn’t want her to see my carious teeth or swollen tonsils. 

“Thank you so much ma’am… but I do not want to go. I mean, I want to, but I cannot go like this.” I say pointing to my old kurti and leggings.

“Ah,” she says, and then her eyes light up like a little kid. “My daughter has left some of her things during her last visit. Let me see if I can find anything for you. Wait here, I’ll be back soon.” With that she rushes out.

I plonk down on the chair, unable to believe my luck. I would be having some fun tonight, afterall…

Dr.Patankar comes back 15 minutes later, and produces a navy blue maxi dress. Not bad.

I thank her, grab it and run to the doctor’s room. I put it on and it fits me like a glove. I also put on my favorite and precious silver bracelet. I’m twirling around in the room when I remember my deadline. I need to eat a scrumptious meal at least and take a good look at the man of the hour.

My hair is a mess; after managing to twirl it in a bun and applying some lip gloss that I always carry, I’m ready to go. Then I remember my sandals. Screw it, I can wear floaters with a dress. Everything is fashionable. I only need to look confident.

With the tiny pep talk, I feel better and run to my destination. 

There are round tables scattered around, each draped in white silk. A vase with fresh roses is placed on each table. The DJ is set up in one corner and there are a few professors trying to shake their legs on the make shift dance floor. The entire ambience is soothing. Glad that I took this opportunity. 

But then I hear some rumbling. Realizing it is from my tummy, I look around to find the buffet. Whilst searching for it, I see my seniors huddled around a man. His back is towards me, but he is tall and in a white suit. Must be the trustee’s son. First tummy, then sonny.

The smell of the food makes my mouth water. Grabbing a plate, I fill it with all possible delicacies, until there is a threat of the plate falling from my hand. Searching for a good place to eat and finding none, I spot a door leading to a patio and a small garden. Relieved, I rush until there and sit in a corner, away from the view of the party. 

With legs folded, and the cool grass tickling my behind, I dive in to my meal. I can feel myself moaning with each bite. I’m almost done with the meal and licking my fingers, when I sense a presence near me.

I look up and I’m horrified to see the man in the white suit staring at me with an amused smile.

I try to smile with my stuffed mouth, but end up grimacing instead. The man in the white suit laughs out loud. Way to make an impression on the man of the hour.

“Not enjoying the party, I believe?” He asks.

“This is my enjoyment.” I say, gesturing towards the now empty plate.

“Ah, the food is awesome indeed.” He sits beside me and fiddles with his watch.

“Looks like you aren’t enjoying.” 

“I was, a while back, until those girls surrounded me and tried to pull me to dance.” 

He seems to shudder at the memory and that expression of his makes me laugh. He looks at me, annoyed. 

“How do you know that I’m not one of them?” I say, quirking my brow.

“When food is more important than dressing up and dancing, then you certainly aren’t one of them.” He says it as a matter of fact.

I pout in mock anger, “You insult my dressing style, mister.”

He laughs. “Who wears floaters to a party?”

“Oh, is it. Then, who wears white in the monsoons?”

He raises his hands in mock surrender. “I haven’t enjoyed in the last few hours inside as much as I have in the few minutes out here.”

I look at him, really look at him. He looks good, but not good enough to make my heart flutter. I can sense his flirty tone, but I don’t feel like encouraging him. Time to change the topic.

“I have heard that you are going to revamp the hospital.”

“Do not ask me about that. It is a stressful matter. Even I don’t know how I’m going to do it.” He has a faraway look in his eyes.

“Whatever you do, revamp the canteen first. And please change the menu. The food sucks.” I say trying to lighten the atmosphere.

He smiles. “Point noted, madam.” He stands up, dusts his pants and offers me his hand. “I need my payment though.”

“Payment?” I question.

“I want to dance with you.”

I shrug, trying to be indifferent while suppressing a smile. The man of the hour has asked me for a dance. And the other wannabes are left drooling over him.

“I don’t want to go inside though.”

“Don’t worry, we’ll dance here.” 

The lights in the garden get switched off, all of a sudden.

“Uh-oh”. I take his hand and stand up.

“Don’t you worry.” He switches on the torch from his phone and plays a song. It is dark, only the torch light illuminating the space. He puts his hand around my waist and moves with the beats. In spite of it being a romantic moment, I feel like laughing. Here I am, in a new city, dancing with a stranger under the cloudy sky.

“I’m giving a speech in some time. Thanking everyone and  blah blah.. You know. It’s only going to be a few minutes and then doctors day will end. But, I want to see you again. I like your spunk…”

I don’t listen to his entire sentence. My mind is stuck at the part that doctors day will end in a few minutes… It makes me shudder. Crap.. I need to rush back to the hospital…

Without a word, I stop dancing and run out. Not caring whom I’m pushing, I rush towards the hospital. I’m relieved to reach the ward in the nick of time.

Patankar ma’am is ready to leave. “Hope you had a good time.”

I smile and thank her. After getting changed, I’m back to work.

The next few days pass in a blur.

With calls and messages to my family pacifying them that I am alive, and managing the workload in the wards, I’m exhausted.

One morning, I overhear my seniors. “Aditya is gone mad. He is looking for the girl who wore floaters in the party. He’s going to all the wards and enquiring. What is wrong with him?”

Oh crap.. he remembers me… 

The other one says, “He also has a bracelet with a heart on which the letters TT are engraved.”

Ah! My precious bracelet. I have searched so much for it and it is with him? How? Then I remember, the awkward dance that we did. It must have fallen down in my rush to exit

I turn around to go to the administration department and meet Aditya, before going to the operation theater. But, I run into him in the lobby itself. 

“Thank goodness, I met you here. Listen, you have my bracelet. I need it back.”

He has a half smile playing on his lips. “I wasted so many days searching for you. Rather, I should have announced in the intercom straight away. Anyway jokes apart, why did you run away that night?”

“I had to reach the hospital before midnight. I had been instructed to do so.” I say, shrugging.

“Why before midnight?” He asks.

“Are you dumb? I told you, because I was instructed to do so.”

He laughs. “Cinderella?”

“What?” And then it dawns. “Puh-lease… I ain’t no Cinderella. And I’m getting late, I need that bracelet right now!” I say stomping my feet.

“Whoa… Relax. I know you are busy. At least, tell me your name?”

“Tia.”

“Cute,” he removes the bracelet from his pocket with a flourish and gestures for my hand. 

I try to grab it, but he dodges. “Don’t even think about making me wear it. I cannot, because I’m expected to be in the operation theater at this instant.”

He sighs, but holds it out for me.  “I want to ask you something, meet me after you are done with the operation.”

“Ask right away, I’m busy for an infinite number of days.” I grab the bracelet and start walking.

He walks with me. I see him running his fingers through his hair multiple times from the corner of my eye. Just as we reach the operation theater, he takes a deep breath and says, “I would like to know you better. Would you go out with me?”

I thrust the bracelet that is in my hands towards him and say, “See this heart out here? It says TT. Tia and Tarun. That’s me and my husband. And this bracelet is his wedding gift to me.” With that, I square my shoulders and enter the theater.

Did I hear something break? I don’t care anyway. Have to help my seniors to get a uterus out…

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(This is an entry in ArttrA-4, a room8 writing game at ArtoonsInn. We’d much appreciate you rating the story and leaving a review in the comments.)

 

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