It’s that time of the year again, when Ganpati’s at the back of trucks, tempos, cars and cycles are being taken out to sea. So living near the said sea as any Mumbaikar would know is at the top of the most pitiable list. Not only are you mostly under house arrest, you are mostly under your bed like dogs during Diwali because it’s so insanely fucking loud. So much for swine flu dampening things. Then the two fools I have for neighbours have decided to ‘host’ Ganpati this year, this means endless competitive bhajans, one Maharastrian style, one Gujarati style going at it simultaneously. Do you pity me now?
Today started off on a bad foot, literally. My mum who is here to help me get better (I had the flu 3 times in a row and topped it off with a stomach infection) was just telling me “paathh nade di..” (watch where you’re walking), when my chappal clad foot went squishingly into the freshest pile of doggie poo. “it’s a good sign” my mother declared albeit hesitantly, saying as an afterthought “better if it was cow dung…tsk, why wasn’t it cow dung…yenna di, atleast cow dung le naddekimattiyaaaa?”
I kinda wished it was cow dung too, the shit was fucking hard to wash off and smelt like hydrogen peroxide on acid, if that’s possible.
I proceeded to friendly neighbourhood ‘Suburban Diagnostics’ in Lokhandwala to get a full body health test done. While at it, my brilliant sister instructs my mother to get me to do a Pap smear as well. I know what this is going to lead to, but arguing in front of my mother will only verbally state the very obvious so I shut up and book the test.
“Can you add a Pap Smear test to that please”
“You are married madam?”
“Er… but madam this test is only for married womens”
“It’s a cervix test for cancerous cells, how does it matter? Plus, I know what it entails”
(Male nurse steps in)
“Madam, please understand this is only for ‘married’ women”
“I KNOW!, I would like to have it ANYWAY”
“She is above 25 years, so she should be able to take the test” my mother says, knowing exactly what all this ‘married’ hoohah is about but wanting to hold up the Bambi innocence I’m clearly not displaying.
“Ok Madam, we will book the test” the nurse says resignedly. Its hard to say if she does it thinking we are uneducated hypochondriacs who are simply insisting on this test, or knowing that we ‘know’ she ‘knows’ exactly what is the bone of contention here.
Once inside the testing rooms, thankfully my mother has been made to sit outside and I have to deal with the nurses alone. The Male nurse looks at me worriedly from a far corner of the blood collection room. In the seconds that I close my eyes wincing from the pain of the suction during blood collection, Male Nurse has sent an elderly female representative to talk to me in hushed tones. The elderly female actually, and I mean actually, covers her mouth on both sides like the blinders that Shahid Kapur wears in Kaminey and asks in a damn loud whisper “ARE YOU HAVING THE SEXUAL INTERCOURSES??”
“……Yes” I say surprisingly unsure, still trying to fathom the extent of worry on this elderly females face. Maybe this is not just about not being a virgin, maybe there is some major shit that will hit the fan if I’m unmarried and take this test. Maybe they need me to sign off on some legal document, maybe they need some sample from the ‘husband’ to compare or something I decide.
My unsure reply tends to worry her further. She decides things need to be broken down further to make me understand. She holds her mouth blinders up again “ARE YOU HAVING THE BOYFRIENDS?”
“SO YOU’RE HAVING THE SEX?”
All this is happening as the blood collection lady is busy at work beside me, labeling my test tube, burning and cutting the needle, rubbing spirit on my bleeding vein and taping it. I have failed to notice the smirk she has on her face till she interrupts elderly psycho to ask me point blank “Are you sexually active my girl”
“Then you qualify, all she wants to tell you is that it is a penetrative test”
“Let her take the test” she says authoritatively to elderly nutcase and the case is finally dismissed.
After what was again surprisingly a painful test, when everyone said it wont be, I went out feeling suitable annoyed. Except I didn’t know who to be angry with. The parochial marathi mulgis at the counter who should simply allow people to take a test, no questions asked, or at least no questions asked SO many times, or my mother in front of whom I cant simply say “I’m sexually active” even though its something she knows fully well but refuses to acknowledge. But then why would she want to I guess… so I just felt annoyed with myself instead. It’s far easier that way.