I stood in the hostel elevator, descending to the earth from my abode on the fifth floor. Although the steel box and I came across each other regularly, we never felt the need to communicate in the two weeks I spent here. For some unknown reason, perhaps to break the ice, it started humming.
Ting-tung ta ting-tung ta ta ting taaa.. the familiar tune rang within closed doors.
I looked to my side and saw another me, dishevelled, in dire need of a long shower. Her hair in utter disarray, the buckle of one shoe undone. The white coat was grimy by the buttons and its pockets bulged with extra needles, syringes, pens, bits of cotton, an IV cannula, even a couple of plastic test tubes – the routine paraphernalia that accompanies compulsory residential internship in a government hospital. You never knew when the meagre stores might run out, so we got into the habit of hoarding essentials, turning into innocent kleptomaniacs.
I watch her wiping beads of sweat off the forehead, and fanning herself with the case sheet in her hand. I spy a couple of blood samples and a blood bank requisition form in her right hand. Probably a cross match for the anemic lady in Medical Unit IV, or perhaps for the adolescent boy with polytrauma who is in the post operative ward.
For a moment, she leaned against the back of the elevator, and hummed along with it.. ting-tung ta ting-tung ta ta ting ta.. Stared at her shoes and rocked to the tune. Read the various proclamations of love scribbled across the old shaft. Arul loves Priya. I love you always. Amudhan hearts Selvi. Jesus loves everyone.
The elevator came to a halt on the ground. She blurred into the awaiting crowd as I came out of my reverie.