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   Going though surgery is like... (September 7, 1996)

Going though surgery is like passing through a charnel-house or a hi-tech burchery. I speak from experience, and recent experience at that.

It begins with entering the hospital and at the start it is a bit of an irony. You enter with your shoes and sock, hair combed, trousers belted, like you are visiting a patient. The next thing you are in broad khadi bkospital pajamas and a shirt worn reverse, lying in a bed tilted at an awkward angle, three injectiions poked into you, and a file placed at the foot of the bed – priosoner no. 1014/10, scheduled for the electric chair tomorrow, 9 a.m. you are doesed with more pills and purgative than you have collectively in your life so far and you are given the last liquid diet. Would you like to have anything special?

The morning begins with cheery night nurses doing their last round of blood-pressures and temperatures before returning to their hostels. A barber comes with a little tin peti and shaves you (not the overnight beard). And you sign a form stating that you are about to be butchered of your own free will.

The most frightening moment is when you hear the rumble of the stretcher being rolled down the corridor to your door and bedside. Never mind you can walk to surgery, you have to lie down on the stretcher and study the panorama of passing ceilings and relations grim faces, upside down.

You are kept in a waiting area, like wagons in the yard. On your two sides are what look like silent corpes. No they are surgery patients, in a yogic coma. You should also get yourself into one, only you do not know how. Also, you are a little curious.

As you are wheeled into the operating theatre (an apt name, theatre), you study the gleaming instruments that will shortly rip open your body, the tubes, knobs, valves and gadgets that will try to keep you alive, the surgical team in its green overalls and caps, like characters in the movie ‘Coma'. Then the lights come on above, the theatre is complete. You say to yourself, all the world's a stage and you are in the seventh stage.

I was given a spinal block, a not too painful anaethetic in the spine, the lower lumbar region, and from waist down I became two logs of dead wood. A gauze was put over my face, so I could not see too much, nut I could hear. Dr. Kildare asking for scalpel, scissors, knives, guts swabs.

And I could hear them talking: how they had again missed the 7.30 train from Jogeshwari; that it was going to be a rainy day outside; that somebody was getting married next month. The phone rang, people talked. Finally, I inquired: When is the operation starting? It has been on 30 minutes, I was told.

Later in the eveniing, the surgeon came up to see me. "You have been a very cooperative patient," he said. I do not know how I could have been otherwise.

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