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Flash fiction : P Anil Prasad
(Written in 2012 and included in the story collection 'The Quake and other stories')

A five member team of junior doctors in the surgery department and a two member anaesthesia team were busy at work in the operating room number five since 6 a.m that day. The first surgery posted for the day was a major one. When the elderly patient fell into a safe and deep sleep, Dr. Arun, the senior anesthesiologist, signalled okay with a confident smile. They all knew it was time to start the surgery!

The junior doctors started the initial procedures expecting the crash-landing of Prof. Narendran, the head of surgery department at any moment from then. They used to call his arrival as crash-landing, because he used to rush into the operation room at the sharp time. On his arrival everybody, except the Anaesthesiologists, would get scolding in the form of very angry murmurs for one reason or another. They all respected him. Perhaps, it was more than respect; a feeling they could not explain. But most often it was overshadowed by fear. Their anxiety was very visible on their faces.

Dr. Pradeep, the senior most among the juniors carefully guided the initial steps and ensured everyone in the team was carrying out the assigned functions perfectly. He repeatedly checked everything by walking around the operating table. He knew he would be the first victim of HoD’s anger. So far in his life he knew no other person who was that much short-tempered! However, the patients admired Prof. Narendran as if he were an angel! They loved him because his angers never failed him in healing their ailments.

The quarts clock on the wall ticked 7.30 am. The murmurs in the operation theatre stopped. They started to work silently. At 7.33 am, they noticed usually careful movements of a person in the adjacent dressing room. Within seconds the operating room door opened slowly and Prof. Joseph, their HoD’s only friend and the deputy HoD, entered with a gloomy face! When everybody gazed at him with a kind of astonishment, he said in his usually cool voice “carry on friends”

Prof. Joseph approached Dr. Pradeep and got the medical records of the patient. He went through the records quickly and returned it to Pradeep. Thereafter, while watching the readings of the electronic monitor and the pulse oximeter, he sought some clarifications from Pradeep on the medical history of the patient. All others in the operating theatre were occasionally passing looks and gestures conveying surprise and confusion. Everyone wanted to ask Dr. Joseph whether Prof. Narendran would come. But no one asked, because they feared it might turn out to be an insult to their deputy HoD.

Finally, when the juniors finished the initial procedures, Prof. Joseph took the lead and said:
“let us start with prayers for the speedy recovery of professor Narendran”
“what?” – all others in the operating room asked in one voice.
Adjusting the surgical lights slightly, Dr. Joseph said: “I thought you were all informed about it. Half an hour ago Narendran’s car hit face to face with a truck just in front of the hospital. He sustained severe injuries…he is undergoing a surgery in theatre one. The last words to me, before anaesthesia, was a request to attend this case ”.

That words fell into their ears as a thunderbolt! They were all shocked into silence again by what they heard! Joseph gave a few seconds for them to settle down. Those were the few seconds in which they realized they all loved Prof. Narendran.

“all of you okay?” Prof. Joseph’s soft voice brought them back into action
#openfiction Image courtesy: public domain image from


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