In that decent pretence in comity, he offered her a mug of coffee. Her tacit finesse by some reason in good-will her hand reached for the mug. Nothing, surely nothing like verbal exchange save a rudimentary smile bothered the quiet of the waiting room. Cutting all the excuses short, she passed a prudent smile just to convey gratitude. A dunce like me in that waiting room was the only one to scroll the pages of an e-book featuring ‘Military Literature’. The smile across the border was malingered. The e-book on my cell phone, on one hand, was loudly narrating the tale of metallic uniform by a fauji but in the waiting room, two soldiers of opposite gender were still holding their conventional choices not to peep into human agony. An electronic voice “next please” distorted the lines and latitudes of many faces waiting on that wooden bench. “Brush twice daily” the poster on the opposite wall was haunting one and all for the reason the message in the poster was enough penetrating to realise ‘ ignorance is not bliss’, not at least when one has to pay an unwilling visit to the dentist. The e-book on my cell phone screen hardly allowed me to visit the invalid faces in the waiting room. Fauji’s are humorous. The expression was more irritating than the hanging faces around. But what made Brig Neeraj Parashar reveal “since the protection of the country’s borders, even at the cost of their lives is a prerequisite of the job, humour is a natural defence mechanism for the soldier.” She had galloped even the last drop of the coffee and returned the mug with thanks. Now the smile was purely rich in grace. These two faces had put such warm gestures that seemed as much as necessary to blotch the stains of hesitation from the floor of pseudo-decency.
“Do you suffer from a toothache?” he asked.
Smilingly few words in low voice broke the silence “not at all.”
He raised his brows in surprise. The wrinkle was temporary like his promenading.
“What brought you here?” she asked.
“I follow the message in the poster, but not my boss,” he informed.
“My aunty needs a fresh set of snow white semicircle for her old hut” she chortled.
The aroma of the freshly apt intimacy suffered a setback when that electronic voice barked “Next please.”
My attention from the e-book was for sometime arrested by this human exchange that started from a mug of coffee to side talks. Col Tarun Parashar’s famous quote in the next page was before me like a doom-like brown belly full of gas looking for a vent. My ribs were moving back and forth but my frozen expressions on the cheeks were firmly sealed for the reason not to earn a name in free among the patients suffering from a toothache. The smile that I deliberately put behind the bars of decency was well-managed by my continuous application of discipline. “Spontaneity and timing are essential to humour, as these are to military operations. A good joke is like a well-laid ambush, sprung in time, to catch an unsuspecting audience off guard and to make them die laughter!”
And to crack a joke amidst patients suffering from toothache would mean to expose their golden teeth and the silver in their cavities. I preferred not to.
Whosoever was coming out of that merciless chamber may have never in their lives thought that how non-verbal communication be one day sufficed their purpose of survival. My eyes by no reason, in particular, recorded a pan shot of the two opposite soldiers guarding their respective territories of bosses and aunties who were more into their own pleasure than to please the patients. Now that little smiles were no more little, they had surpassed the line of actual control. The arrows and bows aided with delicious honey coated smiles were now being bombarded across the border. The half utterances tightly wrapped against hard earned money and the sizzling exchange of glances was well matching with a joke on the mini screen:
What branch of the military do babies join?
What happened to the soldier who went to the enemy bar?
He got bombed.
The medicine counter next to the waiting room was now the center of attraction with a patient and attendant. One was buying the medicine and the other trying to get the dosage. In the meanwhile, the waiting room had lost its glory. Now that everyone was at least leaving the counter with a hope that not to see the dentist anymore.
She too left. He was holding his boss who was still in trance for his worst foe in the cave was recently dumped in the bin.
The final smile was killing. She delayed her steps and he hurriedly moved up to her.
The cunning boss and the old aunt were relieved.
But their two soldiers carried home a headache that reached down in their sternums as heartache. And the only wish they wished for was to experience the arrival of wisdom tooth to re-visit the dentist.