The telephone rang. I left it to its constant clamour, let's see how long it could go on with this. It didn't stop. The incessant noise grated in my skull, like a machine lacerating something to shreds. It will stop. It did not. It was as tenacious as a bawling child. I rose. Barely my hand touched the receiver., it stopped. I smiled. You fool I thought, now you are giving up.
I writhed in bed for a long time. Suppose it was a patient. Then, my casualness was a dereliction of duty. In those days there were no mobiles, even if there were, I didn't have one. I wanted to outsmart technology by not having one. Today I have three.
I woke up. Yes, it was the ringing alright. Must be someone serious, I jumped out. I caught that darned thing and wanted to say: what's the matter, it is almost twelve. But I was a doctor, remember the Hippocrates oath. Yes, yes I grit my teeth.
Hello? I enquired politely, stifling a. yawn. Is that Mr Dasgupta. Wrong number, I snapped and banged the telephone.
Sleep was difficult that night. And the barking of those dogs resounded like gun shots in the silent night. Again, it rang. I went rushing to the sitting room.
Barely had I held it, a voice with equanimity said: Mr Dasgupta? Didn't I say it was wrong number I yelled.
But, Mr Dasgupta says that this is his number.
What, is the number ( you maniac).
The number is as same as mine. Just check, I amost shout. Some mistake, somewhere.
Yes Sir, a voice says politely. Sorry to disturb you at this hour. This hour, I think, of course this hour, and that Dasgupta! No problem, I dissemble politeness. You see I am a doctor.
Oh, doctor, doctor my child is writhing in pain.
I stagger out of the house. It is 1 am. His house.
When I went there a rickety man stood outside and looked at me enquringly. Police? he asked. No, no... doctor. There has been a murder in the house. A woman and a child in a pool of blood.
The inquisition by the police took two hours. He asked for a Mr Dasgupta. What is your name, a rasping voice asked. I am Doctor Rana.
As I entered my house, the telephone rang again. It was 3.30 and a cock was crowing.