“Take off your belt”. She said.

The belt slid off.

“Take off your pants.” she said in a firm voice. I gaped at her. Shocked that she could be so blunt, so business-like about this.

Wearily I unzipped. And slowly pushed my jeans down.

“Please get on the bed”. I meekly lay down on my stomach, dreading the next few minutes. 

I felt a pat on my butt. My chaddi was still on.

“Underwear!” She reminded me.

I pushed it down. My face was turned to her and she was opening the packet. Pulled out an angry looking vial. In one quick brute ‘swish’, she broke the vial and then sternly looked at the needle. Filled the syringe.

The first sensation was of cold, wet cotton on my butt. 

“This wont hurt” she said mechanically.

The needle touched the skin. It sank into the Gluteus and slowly descended into my left bum. The seconds stretched and the needle was still moving, traveling deeper and deeper. I was almost going to shout at her to stop doing that.

“Stop! You don’t want the needle to get stuck in the wood of the bed I am lying on!” Thankfully before I could lift my head up, I could feel the needle sliding out of the muscles.

It was over. One vial down. Nine to go.

I limped out of the Lab feeling quite unsettled. The woman was quite pretty. She was intelligent, I knew. She worked in a lab that was successful. And she even smiled at me on a few occasions.

But there was something about her that made me dislike her. Something that made the bone marrow curdle. She hadn’t said one thing to me that I could call objectionable or bad, mind you. And yet, there was something.

And over the next 9 days when together we systematically tackled the remaining 9 vials, the reason I had this feeling about her began to emerge and become clearer in my mind. Let me give you a little background on this.

It all started with a prick.

He was at one of the clinics in one of the small lanes in Santa Cruz west. He sat behind a door that had a board which proudly qualified him as a GP. Little did I know that it didn’t stand for ‘in this room sits a General Practitioner’. In hindsight, I know it meant ‘Guinea Pigs, enter here’.

And I had obediently obliged. He examined me for twenty minutes. Made me take my shirt off, pressed a cold metal against my chest and shone light inside my eyes and peered inside my mouth. He generally appeared to be severe and had a grave look on his face.

And sure enough, he brought up the L word. Go to the lab down the road.  I was advised to take some 10 shots of a colourless liquid. But Why? I had a deficiency. But What? Some vague thing about not having certain amino acids in my blood stream. But How? Its common.  Happens to a large percentage of vegetarians. Nothing to worry. After you take shots, have B Complex regularly. Ok doc.

At the end of the great drama, he sat down looking intense and scribbled something on a paper. Now, I must clarify here, that I do not normally exaggerate. Nor do I fancy allowing a lie to pass through my lips, just for effect. But, believe me when i tell you that till today, I haven’t met anyone who could decide what language it was written in.

‘It is probably a code. Some secret communication between him and the chemist’ said T.

‘I think I am convinced it is ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics’ Said another friend of mine.

My teacher – from whose finger-tips I occasionally hung by the ear – would have said, ‘That? That is no writing. That’s nothing to read. It’s just a chicken that walked across on the paper.’ 

Anyway, the truth was that he did put a pen to that paper. And he did make some ink stains with it, which apparently made sense to the chemist who gave me the maal. 10 intense looking vials. One look and you would have grimaced. These Vials. Tsk tsk. They look so serious. Why cant we design them differently? Why do they need to have an air of earnest seriousness? And solemnity? If I had my way, I’d design vials in different shapes. A swan. Break its beak and help yourself to the contents. An elephant. A soldier. Break his gun. A tiny champagne bottle. Pinocchio’s face. Lets have some lightness. 

So now that was the backdrop. I had to take these 10 shots over 10 days.

With a whole box of vials tucked under my arm, I walked to the lab. The first thing that struck me was their faces. They have such grave, bored expressions in these labs. Overall a lab is quite a depressing experience. But I had to take those ten shots so I had to bear it. And I went through the process just out of morbid curiosity.

This doc that was assigned to give me shots was this pretty one whom we discussed before.

Day 2 happened. 8 pm came. I was outside her door. Waiting.

We started our chat.

“Please take off your belt”
Clink! The vial Broke. This wont hurt.

She annoyed me. And she had this crappy tone. That was it. It got to me. For some reason I couldn’t fathom, the injection had to be given on my bum. Since I had to take one a day, the plan was that she would alternate it. Left, right, left, right and so on.

Thank god for giving us a pair.

Day 3:

Clink! She broke the vial.
“This wont hurt. “

Grimace. Limp out.

Day 4.

“Bel….” Belt off and I was pants down, ready for her.
“underwear” she said.
I slipped it down.
“A small prick” she said.

The colour drained from my face. What did she just say? How dare she!! How dare she make that comment!

I was livid. Indignant. I turned to her, red with anger, ready to ask, “well how many have you seen!” but the pain in my butt stopped me. The needle was well on the way inside.

And I had to limp out with my tail tucked between my legs.

Day 5

“B…..” Belt off, Pants down, Chaddi down, and ready for her.
Clink! And she said it again. “One small prick”.

Ok. Don’t react. Relax now. 

Breathe slowly now….In…..out……In…..out……In…..out……In…..out……In…..out…….

She was talking about the needle. About the injection. But her tone. I swear it was mocking. Almost a slanderous insult. Not directly. But subtle. And suggestive.

Day 6

“B….” B off. Pants down, Chaddi down, ready.
Clink! “one quick, tiny prick”

This wasn’t getting any better. Her suggestive commentary was getting worse.

Day 7

Already on the bed, belt off, pant down chaddi off.

“One small prick” She was incorrigible.

Day 10

On bed, with my bums exposed to the atmosphere. Random US and Russian sattellites actively taking picutres and relaying them back to their HQs… I could picture several concerned personnel from intelligence wings bending over sattellite images, scratching their chins with concern. What could that terrible object be? Are the Indians building Bunkers? Why are they so ugly? 

Back on earth in the lab, I heard a voice. 

“A very small prick!”

That woman hurt my ego at a subliminal level.  After 10 days of indirect, suggestive abuse, I became a free man. Though fitter than I was to begin with if I was to believe the prick that started it all.

But, over the days, I amused a lot of people who noticed my limp orientation alternate everyday.

Amused colleague: “Hey! Weren’t you limping on your left foot yesterday? You forgot?”
Amused colleague: “Hey! Weren’t you limping on your right foot yesterday? You forgot that you forgot?”
Amused colleagues subordinate (it was appraisal time) “Hey! Weren’t you limping on your left foot yesterday? You remembered finally?”
“I hope your boss doesn’t remember which foot! Are you planning leave?”
Slanderous colleague to amused colleague: “hey, if someone was hurt on both feet, would he still limp?”


And so it went. Oh Boy! It takes 11 pricks to make a memorable expereince.