Dr. Anusha Bohra was considered one of the best brain surgeons in the country. She was so devoted towards her work that she said she would never get married. She believed that she was married to her work. She couldn’t imagine taking up any further responsibility, and that’s what made her different from other brilliant doctors.
Dr. Bohra was actually gifted, and she realized it quite early in her career when she performed her first brain surgery back in 2003. As she opened the skull of her very first patient, Mr. Manjunath Haldar, a pot-bellied jeweler in Kolkata’s Burra Bazaar, she heard whispers. Whispers that apparently only she could hear. None of the other 9 members in the ICU heard anything more than the beeps of various electrical equipment. As she moved closer to the patient, she heard the whispers getting louder and louder. She realized that they were the thoughts of Mr. Haldar. She could hear him thinking about some Bonku Baba, who probably had the shop to himself while his ‘Seth Ji’ is busy getting the ‘Baal er’ tumor removed from his brain. Manjunath was worried if Bonku was eligible to take care of the business while he was away. All he cared for was money, even on his deathbed, as if he could take his wealth with him all the way to heaven.
The next patient she had was a 9-year-old kid who had hematoma. She was critical and that was the first time Dr. Bohra was handling a kid, that too in her private clinic, performing the surgery all by herself. She was almost emotional when she heard what the little one was thinking. She heard the kid praying to God, “God if I am cured today, I promise I will never kill another ant and I will always finish my tiffin in School.” Anusha kept in touch with the kid and on some weekdays, she even went to her school to sneak up from her classroom’s window just to see if she is eating her tiffin or not. Since then, Anusha has had several cases and she has a cent percent record. She has never let any of her patients leave without a smile and gratitude on their faces. She uses her special ability to enhance her performance, by learning what the actual problem is, where the pain is or how much critical the patient actually is from their behavior. All of this comes to great use when her patients can’t explain what they’re feeling. But this wasn’t always the case, she wasn’t born with this ability. She herself didn’t know how she got them, but she believes she unlocked this power after she had a serious brain injury, the aftermath of a violent car accident. It was only when she cracked open the first skull in Mr. Haldar’s case, that she got aware of her powers. Sometimes she used to think that the doctor who performed her surgery, might have planted a transmitter that could catch signals emitted from someone’s mind.
She would compare herself to the priest who would silently listen to all the confessions and would forgive them on behalf of God for the sins they had committed. She never judged her patients on the basis of what she heard them thinking. Her patients would always recommend her name to others, telling them how professional yet so sympathetic she was towards her patients. She would always please people with her enormous smile and impress others with her gorgeous looks. But she herself was very intimidated of her past. She would always conceal her secrets and never share them even with the best of her friends. She was deeply affected by her past and never wanted to dig up those horrifying events that once haunted her. She would always thank God for letting her personal life not interfere with her professional life. And now, after all those 15 years of serving her best, she believed it was better for her to settle down and begin a new chapter in her life. She was adamant about her decision even though her co-workers pleaded her not to be. Eventually, it was about time for her last surgery. “So, this is it. This will be the last time I would be using you guys,” she thought to herself looking at her instruments before beginning the operation. She washed up her hands and wore her gloves “Let’s do it then”, she said to her co-workers in the lab. On the bench today, was an old lady with completely white hair and a wrinkled face. She might have been the age of Anusha’s mother. And just as she started her surgery, she heard the whispering again. By this time, during surgeries, she was well acquainted with the whispering part and it didn’t come as a surprise to her anymore like it used to be earlier. But this time, she was rather shocked after listening to the whispers. They were more like memories than a whisper. The old lady thought of what she experienced one fine night. She thought of that dangerous accident that occurred 15 years ago. The accident where she lost her 9-year-old daughter, who had just won the fancy dress competition. She was dressed as an ant. The old lady still remembered vividly how pretty she looked even in that hideous dress. She still remembered the exact details of what happened that very night.
It was a cloudy night, she was in the front seat of the car while her husband was driving and her daughter was reciting lines from the performance she just gave in the school’s Fancy Dress Competition.
Her daughter was too excited about winning the prize because it was the first time she had won anything in her life. The little one was so excited that she even promised her mother that she would always finish her tiffin in the school itself, something that she really frowned upon. The old lady smiled thinking of that, but then she remembered what followed next. The old lady recollected an imported car with a lady driver, getting rammed violently into their car. It all happened in the blink of an eye, she couldn’t perceive what actually happened, until five minutes later when she woke up and got to her senses. She opened her eyes to see the car inverted and her husband pulling her out of the car. She was still dizzy but asked for her daughter. She began screaming and searching for her daughter as did her husband. The only person who was affected by the accident was the one who wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, her daughter. They found her at the side of the road, with her neck snapped and head bleeding from everywhere. That was the moment the old lady realized that her life was going to change forever.
Anusha was thunderstruck as she heard the whispers. For some reason, this incident reminded Anusha of her accident 15 years ago. She felt like all those memories came back together to haunt her again. The same memories she hid deep down inside her, memories she was afraid of digging up yet again. She was just standing in the OT, not realizing that she was in between an ongoing surgery. The nurses were a little confused too, looking at her just standing there. Anusha realized that she was the lady driver that caused that accident 15 years ago. Just a single thought of that very night sent shivers down her spine. She remembered she was drunk that night when she was returning from a party. It was a stranded road, with no street lamps, surrounded by forest on both sides. She kept pushing the accelerator harder and harder while her music player’s volume was maxed out. But the song started flickering, so she opened the player to check if the cassette was alright and just then, in that very split second, her car rammed into the old lady’s car. She couldn’t remember what occurred after the accident as her eyes opened in a hospital where she was admitted for 5 days. She got to know that her father, a wealthy businessman, had taken care of the criminal proceedings associated with that accident so that she could continue with her medical practices without any criminal record.
Anusha’s co-worker shook her as she had been standing there all this while. With her shaky hands, she continued with her work. She could hear some more whispers as she bent forward to carry on with the surgery. They sounded more like prayers as if the old lady was asking God to take her away and not cure her so that she could reunite with her daughter. A tear slipped from her eyes and fell on the lady’s forehead. She knew she wouldn’t be able to continue any further. She left the Operation Theatre and rushed to the washroom. She splashed water over her face and took a closer look at herself in the mirror. She wasn’t as affected by the lady’s whispers, as she was from the thought about the 9-year-old who died in that accident. She realized something that shook her. She realized that it was the same 9-year-old kid whose school she used to visit every month, the same 9-year-old who promised that she would never kill an ant ever again, the same 9-year- old who was wearing an ant’s costume, when Anusha killed her, 15 years ago. Anusha realized the grave sin she had committed, but there was no way she could confess it. “If only someone could hear my thoughts,” she said to herself. She bent down to drink some water and washed her face again, as she felt dirty and disgusted, and just as she looked closer into the mirror, she saw the 9-year-old kid in the ant costume, smiling gleefully at her.
Written by- Sagnik Chakraborty