The little girl hesitatingly followed her mother into the clinic.
“She has tooth ache since three days”
I asked the child to sit on the chair and just as the girl attempted to climb on to it, her mother lifted her and placed her in the chair. I went closer and bent down to address her.
“What is your name?”
The child was shy and took time to answer.
“Tell me, what is your name?”
“Her name is Tanvi” - The mother intervened.
I ignored the mother and addressed the child again.
“Which standard are you in?”
“She is in third standard” Mother.
“Which school do you go to?” I tried to engage the daughter in conversation once more
She began falteringly “ I … I….go to Vidya…”
“She attends Vidya Vikaas High school” - The mother
I asked the mother to allow the child to speak. “You tell me” I asked the child again “which school do you go to?”
“Vidyaa Vikaas primary section” came the correct answer.
“Does your tooth hurt?”
The child nodded her head in answer.
Again, the girl took time to reply. The mother could not hold back “See, this tooth” She tried to pull open her daughter’s mouth to show me the tooth.
I called the mother aside.
“Madamme, I can understand your concern but please allow your daughter to interact with me. It is important if I have to treat her.”
“But I am afraid that she may not explain things properly. She doesn’t know what to tell you and forgets everything.”
“That is Ok. I will manage and if I need your help, I will certainly ask you.”
I addressed the child again. “Which is the tooth that is hurting”
The girl pointed to the offending tooth.
“Does is hurt always? All through the day?”
Now she answered. “No. It hurts only when I eat something”.
“Shall I see the tooth? Please open your mouth”
I examined the child. Told her what I intend doing and asked her if she wants me to treat her.
She nodded again.
“I want you to say it aloud.”
“Yes” came the answer.
Then I fixed an appointment and noted it down in my diary.
Now I asked the mother. “Please give me your telephone number”
“Mobile or land line?”
“Whichever, Some number to contact you if required”
“8873……. No, 88763……. I am sorry, 88673…….. ‘Che’, 98673……… one minute” she opened her bag and tried to find her mobile phone “oh, I forgot to bring the phone also.”
The child pulled at the mother’s saree “Mummy it is 8867..”
“You keep quiet, don’t interrupt me now”
“Forget it” I said. “Note my number and call me from your phone. I will get your number. Give me the landline if you can.”
“Ok. 2314….. Sorry, 2334…… Oh god, we changed it recently and I .……”
A shrill voice rang out confidently and clearly from her side, “8867345342 and 2314563.”
I looked down. The child was beaming .
“Good” I exclaimed and looked at the mother. With an effort I held myself back from saying “See, she can do much better than you”
“I always forget the phone numbers” The mother tried to cover up, sheepishly, and walked out hurriedly pulling her daughter behind her.