Thursday, February 11, 2016


Sometimes, it feels like I visit Calcutta to visit family, and a man. This man makes me wait for him with nervous energy, and the first thing we meet, he wastes no time but goes directly for my mouth. But not to kiss me.

I am talking about the dentist. 

Weeks before I land, my sister meticulously makes an appointment. There is no time wasted. I meet him even before I meet my greater family, cousins, recent crushes, or ex-flames. This is because every time I visit Calcutta, I have no idea how long these dental sessions would last. Sometimes, a few days. Sometimes, weeks. This pretty smile comes at a huge maintenance cost. 

This time, I thought it was not too bad. I was here less than a year ago (sobbing and having meltdowns and tantrums in this same seat), and what could go wrong in ten months? Just that the cap he had put on after my root canal last year had come off. Seemed pretty innocuous. My brother-in-law had the same problem, and was done in less than ten minutes. He had even smiled and waved at the dentist saying, "Dekha hobe abar", or "See you soon!". I think that the irony of that statement was lost on him.

So as usual, I was there at the dentist's. His two assistants instantly recognized and smiled at me, very used to seeing me now. Chiranjeevi was making some hip thrusting moves on the television with a chick less than half his age and weight, making me christen him Pelvis Presley in my mind. At least, it took my mind off the impending ten minutes. 

Only this time, I was not going to get away in ten minutes. The dentist looked at the chipped cap, and tried thrusting it in my mouth with all his strength. Just that it wouldn't fit well anymore. So I had to come back for a few more sessions, when they cut me open once again, and reset my tooth for that perfectly infectious smile one could swoon over. It was little relief that he did it for free, since he was the one who did not set things right the last time. When my grandma had to replace all her dentition, she actually opted for a teeth setting that resembles Madhuri Dixit's (I am not kidding). I think I am still a few decades away from the luxury of that choice.

Anyway, knowing how I make the best use of the situation, I decided to go in the opposite direction from home, so forlorn I was. There was only one thing that could cheer me up at that hour. A pair of fleshy green coconuts. I visited the square close to home, where my mom usually encourages me to bargain a little. But I do not. Anything good that comes for less than €1 is not worth bargaining for. Just that the green coconut guy was really concerned, not knowing how I would have two coconuts in one go.

"Bari niye jaaben? Nijei khaben? Pack kore debo?", he kept asking me. (Will you take it home? Will you share? Should I pack it for you?). Thank God he did not enlighten me about the calories two coconuts contain.

At least I walked back home feeling content, temporarily happy, and thankful for having teeth. According to me, tooth problems are better than toothless problems, and graying hair is better than a receding hairline. Tomorrow, we shall see tomorrow.


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