The prospect of visiting a new orthodontist is probably never too
exciting. More so, when you’re anticipating all the horrible stuff
your dentist might suggest. It all started with a toothache (doesn’t
it always?). First, a little swelling around the cheeks, and then some
more, finally culminating into bleeding ulcers, and then the pain of
skipping breakfast. That’s when I decided to call JustDial and ask for
the nearest Dental Clinic.
The name “Chisel Dental Clinic” did sound scary for a while, but I
soon realized I wouldn’t find Dr Shrivastav (my family dentist, back
home) to grind my wisdom teeth every time they pierced into my inner
cheeks. This happens to me every year. It had begun when I was 17, and
my dentist says it’ll continue till I reach 21. That’s not very far
off, I was arguing with myself as I walked inside Chisel.
The thing about dentists is, every time I walk in, I keep expecting
old magazines at the front desk. I did remember a joke my brother told
me when I was young, about how he had once entered a clinic himself,
and found a magazine that had “Titanic Sinks, Kills hundreds” on its
cover story. Nothing of that sort happened with me, much to my dismay,
but I did spot a black and white television set that was broadcasting
the History Channel, which was pretty old by default.
So far, so good.
Ever since I’ve started living in Bengaluru, I’ve grown accustomed to
the idea of Native Medical personnel. So it really came as a
(pleasant) surprise when Dr Minty Sharma welcomed me inside. It was
all pretty much routine stuff thereon, till the point when she
explained that I needed surgery.
“Your dentist has ground your molars too far inside already. If I
slice more of it, you’ll end up with something worse than a sensitive
I asked what that was.
“Half a sensitive tooth.”
The only solution, she explained, was a complex procedure involving
local anesthesia, some drilling, and a tooth-crown. All that did sound
pretty neat in my head, but all my natural instincts told me to get
scared, so I did. I got so scared, that I walked out of the clinic
shivering all the way down to my toes, imagining all the dreadful
things that could happen to people when they are operated on. I know
what you’re telling yourself. Tooth-capping is not even real surgery,
right? But to someone who has been haunted all his life by a series of
dental disasters (read: me), the idea of a needle piercing through
your gums is potentially depressing. My friend, who had accompanied me
to the clinic, was in better moods. He was buying glowing wall
stickers for my hostel room, hoping to cheer me up in the process.
That’s when it happened.
All this while, I had been worrying about my situation, and wondering
how all the terrible stuff that god had planned out for mankind seemed
to land up on me.
“Why me?” I was asking myself.
“Why me?” I guess I asked again, a bit louder this time.
And then, I saw something weird. Well, honestly, it’s not that
uncommon. Here in the city, in fact, it’s only weird when you don’t
spot this scene.
“20 Rupees for a poster.”
A lady, probably in her early thirties, with a little baby on the
sidestep with her, was looking up at me, with her disturbed eyes,
tired with the low profits of the day that has been.
Of all the places you’d look into, for inspiration to face your
troubles with dentistry, I reckon I found the most depressing, and
most beautiful at the same time. My question was answered, definitely;
but let’s not look into that as of now.
“Why me?” The voice in my head had surely lost volume, overshadowed by
the striking loudness of “20 Rupees for a poster”.
Twenty Rupees. That’s all for what this lady offered these amazing
slogan posters. One that defied sorrow, proclaiming: “Problems are
god’s way of reminding us that he exists.”
A quote by Albert Einstein: “I’m glad that the world refused to help
me out with everything, because then I learnt to do it myself.”
A picture of a happy mother with a happy child, in heavy contrast
with the scene that lay in front of me.
All this, for twenty rupees each. It does seem like a small price to
pay up, in this expensive city, but it’s all that she needs to feed
her child. And face her troubles.
“Why me?” The inner voice was literally quivering now. I felt like my
surgeon had already given me the anesthetic, I didn’t quite feel my
Twenty Rupees for a smile on my face, and some calories for the
I ended up buying five posters, and looked at the smile on the face
that had been frustrated without much sale during the day. She
accepted the hundred rupee note with a degree of awe that was probably
seconded only by mine.
I’m a student at Bengaluru. I’m someone who spends a lot of my
parents’ money on posters and stickers for my room. I spend money to
keep myself happy. And after spending One hundred rupees on a bunch of
posters, I felt oddly happier and relieved.
I don’t do charity. I don’t run an NGO. I don’t have that kind of
money. So I did what I could do. I bought the posters. Maybe, for most
of us, this is all that takes to realize that our troubles are too
minute to worry our heads off.
So, after that confusing story, here’s my request to everyone who’s
reading this story.
Buy the posters. And you’ll feel loads better.
And now for that answer to my unending questionnaire with my god.
“Why me?” I felt that voice fade away, as the lady took her child in
her arms and wrapped up her posters for the day. She got up, ready to
struggle, one more day, again, until she could bring that poster smile
on her baby’s face. That’s her story. That’s my answer to “Why me?”