It was like a climax in Hindi film, I was Rajesh Khanna, Kal Ka Mp, lying in bed, bandages around my eyes, after an eye operation. Will I (Rajesh Khanna alias Kaka) be able to see again or not?
Actually, in the beginning, it was quite serious, unlike in a Hindi film, where in the beginning it is comedy and songs and dances and Kashmir and then it becomes serious and tragic. My vision had steadily declined and the doctors had discovered large holes in my retina, like in a Swiss cheese, positioned at 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock (in medical terms). If immediate surgery was not done, I may still go blind.
So they filled the holes with silicone, sealed them with a freezer at minus 175 degrees C. Then they put thick cotton wads on my eyes, taped them tight with plaster, tied a green surgical bandage around them, and there I lay, like Rajesh Khanna, blindfolded for several days.
Visitors, like self-conscious extras in a film, came bearing flowers, fruits, Chinese food, copies of T.S. Eliot's Quartet and James Thurber's The Best In Me And Other Animals (probably they thought I was Dom Moraes, though how even Mr. Moraes, would have read blindfolded I do not know).
Background music was provide by a patient in the next room, probably an Arab, via his radio. He played it through the day, Hindi film songs on Vividh Bharati, then, one morning, suddenly, the radio turned to recitations from the Koran. Evidently it was his operation morning. By afternoon he had turned back to film songs, the operation had no doubt been successful.
Finally, the day came for removing my bandages. The woman, who had been by my bedside all through serving me quietly, was no doubgt Sharmila Tagore, my long lost wife, who in a moment of great misunderstanding and injustice, I had thrown out of the house on a dark and rainy day, with out child in her hand.
The young surgeon who had operated me and who was now going to open my bandages was Rishi Kapoor, the long lost son, whom Sharmila Tagore had put on a leaf and floated down the river, to be picked up by some shepherds, raised and sent to england to become a famous eye surgeon. It was an interesting situation, except for Sharmila Tagore knowing it was Rajesh Khanna, nobody knew who was who. The grand denouement was arriving.
But when the bandages were removed, the wife turned out to be only The Wife, and instead of the young surgeon, there was Dr. Badar Maskati, who though undoubtedly the most accomplished surgeon in the Australasian continent, wasstill not Rishi Kapoor.
Still, to maintain the tempo of the Hindi film, I announced: "I can see, I can seen. Hip-hip-hooray." (Hindi translation: "Mein dekh shakta hoon, mein dekh shakta hoon. Jai Hindi.")
And the wife said: "Of course, you can see. And you better get up and go back to work, you have been lazing about too long."