SAADIYA HALIMA

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
It is a story about an Indian doctor coming to Africa on assignment and his relationship with an african girl whom he treats.

Submitted: August 09, 2008

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Submitted: August 09, 2008

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This was his first trip overseas and Ashok was very excited about it for quite sometime. On arrival at Murtala Muhammed Airport in Kano where Dr Ashok Mitra was to take up his position as a senior surgical consultant at the state hospital he was formally received by Dr Adeyemi, a junior consultant from the same department.

“Welcome to Nigeria and the state hospital” a beaming Dr Adeyemi stretched forward his hand to shake hands with Dr Mitra. Ashok was very impressed and felt a lot reassured about the place he never visited earlier and which is part of the commonly known ‘dark continent.’

“Hello” Ashok said. “I am also very pleased to be here. Hope I can do something for all of your people here.”

“Of course you will” said a very polite Dr Adeyemi as they proceeded to the waiting car that will take them to the hospital. The driver also greeted Dr Mitra and they started moving through the fairly good roads towards the hospital. Ashok was pretty impressed about the discipline maintained on the road as he was used to the chaotic traffic in India. It is also the first time he was experiencing driving on the right side which Nigeria introduced since 1972.

 

On arrival at the hospital Dr Adeyemi asked the driver to go straight to the assigned quarters of Dr Mitra. There the car stopped in the portico of the bunglow type building typical of Nigerian government quarters. As Ashok and Dr Adeyemi entered the house he was quite impressed with the house which was quite tastefully furnished.Dr Adeyemi showed him round the house which had a well fitted kitchen,bedrooms were quite adequate and a study and the drawing dining usually called the ‘parlour’ in this part of the world.Dr Adeyemi asked him to relax and settle down and left promising to arrange for his dinner and come back later. He advised Dr Mitra to report to the hospital manager the next morning to join duty.

 

Once alone Ashok’s mind was full of various thoughts and he started thinking about home and his mother who advised him to work well for a few years and then to return home so that she could get him married to a nice girl there. She told him many times that whatever he did in Nigeria he should avoid marrying a non Indian! Ashok just smiled at the thought of his mother’s advice and her concern about him. All the traveling for the last two days made Ashok feel a bit tired and he opted to retire early aware of the fact that he had to report for duty the next morning.

 

By six in the morning the steward from Dr Adeyemi’s house knocked at Dr Mitra’s house.He brought tea and breakfast for him. “So kind of Dr Adeyemi” thought Ashok by himself. He settled for his cup of tea and then started getting ready for moving on to the hospital to assume duty.He was ready by seven thirty and Dr Adeyemi was at his portico honking for Dr Mitra to join him to go together to the hospital. They reached at around seven fortyfive and Dr Adeyemi took Ashok to the Chief medical officer who was the overall in charge of the unit. Incidentally he was an Indian doctor settled in London and came from there. Dr Adeyemi introduced Dr Mitra to the CMO Dr Arun Mathur.

“Welcome to this country and this government hospital.I hope you will enjoy working here. Anything you need just tell my PA who will organize everything.’ Dr Mathur assured Ashok.And thus Dr Ashok Mitra started his tenure at the government hospital in the city.

 

Ashok was really enjoying his work in the hospital gaining a lot of experience in patients coming from the typical interior villagesof this African nation. There were threats of malaria, sleeping sickness and some other typical African disease which he gradually got acquainted to. Very soon he became quite reputed among the patients and the public as a good surgeon and got more and more people to come and consult him.

 

One morning Dr Mitra got a call from the Chairman of the state public service commission who introduced himself as Alhaji Isa Kaita.

“Tell me ,sir what can I do for you?’ asked Ashok.

“Thanks doctor. Iwould like you to have a look at my younger daughter and give your opinion. The local doctor tells me she may need a surgery.’

“Bring her along around eleven thirty and I will arrange to examine her and then give my advice.”

So at eleven thirty Alhaji Isa Kaita came along with her daughter. Ashok was quite impressed with her look as she was quite fair having mixed blood from the Fulani tribe who are a sort of nomadic tribe in Nigeria. She was quite attractive too.

“Name please” asked Ashok filling the medical history sheet.

“ I am Saadiya Halima” she replied,”Isa Kaita ,of course.’ She added with a smile.

‘Good now let’s hear what is the problem so far and how are you feeling now’ said Ashok.

For about half an hour Saadiya Halima described her case history and her present problems with her father intervening at times to mention points that Saadiya missed out on.After the session Ashok advised them to take some medicines he prescribed and return after a week when he would have some tests done on her.

“It was so nice meeting you doc’Saadiya smiled ,”good bye and see you next week” .

And they left.
 

Saadiya came to visit Ashok’s clinic the next week. After looking at all the reports Ashok found that Saadiya was recovering well and he gave her some new medicines to take for the next week and after that she should come for a final check up. Saadiya smiled and took the papers and got up to leave. Ashok found something very attractive in that smile. “Her smile is as beautiful as herself”-Ashok thought to himself. Suddenly his thoughts were going haywire and Dr Ashok found himself in a strange situation of starting to like his patient. “This never happened in India” the though passed his mind. He was quite unmindful of his surroundings and forgot that it was his clinic at the hospital.

“May I go doc? Have you anything more to tell me?” Saadiya asked him again with that smile which Dr Ashok found irresistible.

‘Oh, yes, but remember to come next week ,same time.’ After a pause Ashok said. “But can you join me for a cup of coffee at the cafeteria if you do not mind!”

Saadiya was surprised at the offer and was a bit reluctant as well to accept the invitation. But she could not refuse for some reason not quite known to her.

“OK,but I cannot stay for long.”-saadiya told Dr Ashok.

“No,no. I have just one more patient to see and then I will be with you. Please wait for me in the lounge.”

Saadiya agreed and went towards the lounge to take a seat.

Dr Ashok joined her after about ten minutes and they proceeded to the hospital cafeteria.

Ashok ordered some coffee and snacks and tried hard to begin a conversation.

‘Tell me about you’ he asked.

“Nothing much to say really. My father is an important man in the state government-probably you did not meet him before as he did not go for the interviews in India.”Saadiya was very informative and to the point.

Time passed by and through their conversation they came to know more about each other and gradually it became easier to carry on the conversation.  . Dr Ashok was called on his pager to attend to some emergency and he had to leave. But before going he got Saadiya promise to meet him the next evening at the local club.

After finishing his hospital work Ashok was driving back home. He could not keep his mind off thinking about Saadiya. He started liking her more and she was all over his thoughts. Ashok was thinking why this was happening to him. He remembered about his mother’s warning about not falling in love or marrying a non Indian.

“But I think this is going out of my control. I am liking her a lot and in my mind perhaps I am liking her too much for my own good.” Ashok thought to himself.

And he reached home.
 
 
 

Gradually Ashok started to meet Saadiya more often as he continued with her treatment. In fact saadiya was recovering quite well and that made everybody happy and Saadiya’s father who was a very highly placed government officer was highly impressed. As time passed by and gradually Ashok brought Saadiya back to perfect normalcy it was time for both of them to part ways.

 

Ashok was surprised with himself that he could not keep his thoughts about Saadiya out of his mind. For her part Saadiya also started to feel that there was something in Dr Ashok which attracted her. And on the day of her final visit to the hospital and Dr Ashok Mitra’s clinic Saadiya seemed to be a bit sad but did not really try to show it. After the visit was over Ashok said ‘ You are absolutely fine now. Go back to your normal routine. Be paerfectly at ease with everything.”

“Thanks,doc.”Saadiya said,”But can we meet again in some other context rather than as one of your patients?”

“ Certainly”,Ashok was quite forthcoming.,”I’ll call you and will see you in the club or somewhere”.

That was the beginning of a long period of togetherness either in the club or in the total privacy of Ashok’s home. And they fell in love – two people from two continents with totally different cultures and background. But they were seriously in love and their courtship went on for the rest of the term of contract of Dr Ashok. Suddenly it was for Ashok to go home on leave prior to his renewal of contract and the evening before his departure Ashok and Saadiya was together in Ashok’s flat. Ashok assured her that he would return to India and get his family’s ,particularly his mother’s permission to marry Saadiya. But he knew in his mind that this was the difficult part but he assured himself and Saadiya that he would do it. That whole evening they melted into each other,oblivious of the world outside and only existence they knew were of the two of them.The night passed by and a new dawn began.

 

Saadiya came to the airport to drop Ashok and after the formalities were done Ashok bade good bye and left to catch his flight. As his plane started the run for take off Ashok thought to himself”I’ll return,Saadiya,I’ll definitely return to take you with me.” In his mind he was not so sure about what is in store for him at home. Meanwhile Saadiya was returning home in her car. Her thoughts were with Ashok.”Even if you don’t returnAshok,I’ll never forget you,never.”

 

And that was the thought in Ashok’s mind as well. “I will never forget you,Saadiya,never”.

 
Ashok was airborne on his way back home after two years
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


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