The Frame Shift
The Frame Shift
The bus stopped at a tiny bus stop. “Sinli, Sinli, Sinli”, the bus conductor shouted to let the passengers know that they had arrived in Sinli village. I took my bags and got down at the stop.
There it was, Sinli, a small village in the outskirts of Uttar Pradesh. I had been posted here and was supposed to be the village doctor for about a year. I didn’t have any expectations for this job. It was compulsory to undergo one-year rural training and this was it. My parents were freaking out about a single 24-year-old woman living alone in a village, but that was the last of my worries.
I saw the bus leave and was suddenly surrounded by nothing. It was an empty road, empty bus stop, and the village was a kilometer walk from here. I picked up my bags and walked towards the village where I was supposed to meet a lady called Preeti.
The village – well, was different. Tiny houses, half-naked men, heavily covered women and a strong smell of cow dung. “Nothing new happens in every village. Stay strong. You’re here to help people” I said to myself. “Dr. Malti?” I saw a 20 something girl approaching wearing tee and shorts. She didn’t fit in with the villagers, heck she looked more of an outsider than I did. “Are you Preeti?” I hesitantly asked her, “Yes! How are you, ma’am? Welcome to our village- Are you tired? Let me show you your house, the clinic is on the way- you can check it out” she spoke so much and so fast that I was left stunned for a minute.
Preeti wasted no time; she picked up my bags and talked constantly. “You see this is where the village head lives- and this is the grocery shop – and here is the village school” I got tired just listening to her constantly talk. She stopped near a worn out, old building with a crooked sign and said with excitement, “Here’s our clinic! It looks a little old but it’s better than the other buildings around here.” I was shocked. How was I expected to work in these ruins? I was too tired to look inside and so I asked Preeti to take me to my house.
The house was a bigger shock, but nothing I hadn’t prepared for. It was a small 1 bedroom apartment with a small bed, a chair, a table, and a tiny TV. “Thanks for your help Preeti, it’s a lovely place” I managed a fake smile. “Feel free to call me for any issues. Just remember to fill the buckets at 7 am in the morning, water only comes for an hour and lights will go out in about 30 minutes for 2 hours so I’ve kept a packet of candles for you. So nothing to worry about, you can rest and I’ll see you at the clinic tomorrow at 9.” As always, she delivered her content at the speed of a bullet train and left me confused.
I had come prepared for the village life but this was a little overwhelming for me. I started missing life at home even though it had been mere hours since I got here. I wanted to call my parents and tell them how bad things were and I almost picked up the phone, when I remembered how much I wanted to do this on my own. I decided to get some sleep and start fresh the next day.
The next day, I woke up fresh and focussed and went straight to the clinic after finishing my chores. Upon entering the clinic, I was shocked. It was completely abandoned with not a soul in sight! All the lights were off, the windows shut, pitch darkness at 9 AM. As I went inside there was suddenly a flash of light and a huge noise, “SURPRISE!”. The clinic staff had planned a surprise welcome party for me! They had decorated the entire room with a sign that said, ‘Welcome Dr. Malti’ along with balloons and streamers, and they had even bought a bunch of snacks! “Wow! I’m so stunned, I can barely speak.” I said to them. It was true, I was really surprised and it was heart-warming to see the efforts they had made for me. Preeti introduced me to the entire staff and I had a great time getting to know them. I was pleasantly surprised to see how aspirational they were, it made me really happy to see that they wanted to change their lives.
That day, I treated my first patient and was amazed to see how well the team worked. After getting done with work, all of us went to Preeti’s house for dinner and she cooked some delicious instant noodles for us. I couldn’t believe how content I was, sitting in a village, and eating instant noodles with my colleagues. It was a completely different scenario from the previous day, and I was now looking forward to the next day at Sinli.