An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth………..for a uterus, what?

The doctor was strapped on the bed. His hands were tied to the head rest of the bed and his legs were splayed outwards. He could feel the cheap nylon wires burn into his skin. The women had tied his hands and feet more tightly than he would ever expect they were capable of.

Now the women – seven of them stood huddled in a corner. He could see the knife gleaming in the hand of a woman whose voice he had never heard till today. She was soft spoken but he was the most fearful of her. She looked at him with eyes that held nothing. He had begged all morning. Begged and whimpered – begging for forgiveness and whimpering to be let out. His testicles had clung close to him as though they knew that they were no longer going to be attached to him for any much time longer. His scrotum shrivelled and contracted as though they knew their imminent fate. He had begged each woman in turn promising money. He learnt quickly that this was absolutely the wrong thing to say. The angle of his mouth had been slit – slightly, but it still gave him his first contact with the cold sharp blade of the knife. His innards had contracted even further. He had wet himself. He felt no shame. He didn’t think of what his wife or children or neighbours would say. He didn’t even think of what his professional colleagues would say – colleagues he met after ‘work’ to drink and chit chat and plan career moves and investments. All he thought was that if he begged a little the women would put him back on the pedestal. They always did. They would sometimes come and fuss and rant but a bit of yelling from him, a sharp word, a look – these were enough to put the women back in their place, but this time was different. Each strategy he tried seemed to anger a different woman and she did things to him that he never thought that women were capable of doing – especially not these kind of women, who usually accepted his word as final and all their doubts as betrayal of his nobility.

He looked at them clinically for a moment, his curiosity aroused. Who were these women? Had some NGO set them up? This was a likely possibility. NGOs fed all kinds of possibilities into these women’s heads. Words like litigation, FIR, consumer court, negligence, denial began to crop up when NGOs got involved. Women got into a tizzy and began to demonstrate some wilful violence – something they never ordinarily demonstrated or even considered when it came to a doctor.

Women fell sick and depended on a doctor to get them to function better. They were more helplessly dependent on their doctors than they were to their patriarchial husbands, who they could sometimes control with coyness and playful denial of sex. For a moment he felt detached and disconnected with what was happening to him. It struck him that while anybody could cut off organs, only a specialist could give anaesthetics to numb the pain. Clearly none of these women had any inkling of anaesthesia, so whatever ‘procedure’ they had in mind for him would not involve anaesthesia. He thought briefly that as a man he could withstand any sort of pain, and for a moment he convinced himself that he was a brave man would laugh in the face of pain. He tried to brace himself by thinking of the different pain he had undergone. A tooth ache? He had cried for days……………… An injection? He winced as he rememberd the sharp needle penetrating him…………. When he had had a fall and broken his forearm? He had passed out and had no clue of what happened after the fall. He realised that thinking of pain was not helping him brace himself for what he realised was an inevitable fate. He felt his knees starting to tremble uncontrollably. The seven women in unison turned and looked at him. The all had come up with a plan and it was evident in the way their eyes looked as they all stared at him. He had operated on each and every one of them and pulled out parts of their body like so much garbage. He had thrust his hands into their abdomens and had felt a gleeful pleasure pulling out their innards. He had made money out of this and he knew that this is what had brought on this situation. His stupid wife was at home sulking and wouldn’t call today. He knew that his fate was inevitable.

The women began closing in on him. The last thing he remembered was the steel glint of the knife.

Twelve years later, the doctor still trembled when he thought of that day. Twelve years ago was the last time he had picked up a surgical knife. Twelve years ago was when his hand had been amputated. When he came out of his unconsciousness, his friend was hovering beside him. “Why did you do this to yourself?’ His friend had asked him again and again. He could only stare at his friend uncomprehendingly. Only later he understood when he read his own medical notes which he was privileged to access considering he was in his own hospital. The notes said ‘Patient had been found by some of his former patients with a knife in his left hand sawing his right hand”. He had checked later whether his testicles were intact.

For the umpteenth time in his life, he let out a deep, deep sigh…………………


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