When my head pulsated with intense throbbing, and it took an effort to keep my eyelids open, I realized that I needed my rest. My body temperature was rising above the normal level. Sleep had completely escaped me yesterday night, and I was feeling the repercussions of it rather harshly. There I was, lying in the separate chamber of my office that was usually used for shooting clips or films. I dug my head in the velvety cushion and my facemask became my blindfold. I heard two or three stifled giggles, considering some of my colleagues had walked in on me and saw my sprawling figure resting on the cushion as if it was my home. It wasn’t long before Aftab walked in. His naturally curious face was covered in thick stubble and big brown eyes were bent in a frown. He cut a concerned glance in my direction, inspecting me from head to toe. I was the spitting image of a weak patient at that time.
“Awais, you really shouldn’t sleep here. There are cameras…”
I sprang from my location, looking around and finding a small white immaculate camera, at the corner.
“Wonderful! I guess I will get back to work.”
I muttered, holding my head. My headaches had subsided but the weakness was starting to set in. No matter how many times I cursed that last night, it wasn’t going to do me any good.
Aftab blinked harder than usual and then spoke.
“Listen, you can go to Seemab and ask for a quick leave.”
Seemab is our HR lady, the authoritative, calm, and slender woman with sharp hazel eyes. She shot me an inspective glance and said kindly.
“Awais, get a prescription. You can leave early today then.”
A prescription! How hard could that be! I was quite thrilled at the idea. I mean there were emergency clinics nearby. All I had to do was just get my seasonal fever checked, and viola! I would soon be heading home. Little did I know that my herculean journey was about to begin.
The first location that crossed my mind was what Seemab had mentioned. “Reliance Hospital”, she had told me. I dashed straight towards the end of this street and kept myself from drifting into that KFC store nearby.
The moment my eyes met with the sight of that billboard that shone with the words, “Reliance Hospital”, I knew I had reached my destination.
The first notion that emerged in my mind was to drag my fatigued self to that counter and cross stares with that bulky man who happened to be present. He scratched his bald head and focused on me with his small piercing black eyes.
“Hi, is this pharmacy?”
He didn’t respond, instead of looking at me as if I had said something obscene.
“Look boy, this is a pharmacy. And if you are here to ask for that special stuff, I cannot provide it to you. Police are present everywhere!”
I had to take a step back to absorb what he had just spat out of his mouth.
“Wait…what? Dude I am here for the emergency clinic. I need a prescription!”
He was startled at what I had just said.
“Listen, kid, I might have been in that business before, but now my conscience has awakened. You don’t need your lemonade, but rather you need rehabilitation. I have seen families getting torn apart because of…what you have…”
His words assumed a more menacing tone.
“Wait…what do you think I have?”
“Child, anyone can tell. You are a drug addict, aren’t you?!”
My lower jaw collided with my upper jaw so hard that my mouth ached. I could hardly contain my ire at that moment.
“Oh my God, you are such a dipshit! I am having one of those seasonal allergies! God, I am here to get a simple prescription!”
His face gathered red near his cheeks.
“If only they had taught you some manners in school. Here you come to work in the gym every day and you don’t even have ethics!”
“Are you kidding me? Dude you just assumed that I was an addict. Here I am worrying about not touching my butt to that cold commode seat. And…I don’t work in the gym. Look, just point me towards the emergency clinic. I am done here!” I blurted, still in disbelief over where this discussion had headed.
“It is closed for a moron like you!”
His words were actually true. The words, “Open 24/7” were practically a slap on my face as I trundled out of that shop and instead dashed straight to the emergency clinic that happened to be at the lower level. The doors were closed.
“Can you at least tell me when will it open?!”
I was helpless now, as I yelled those words while returning to his counter.
“Get lost. You hurt people’s feelings!”
Only God knew how much effort it took to stop myself from taking off my shoe and hurling it at his head. I needed shoes, and the outside air bore cold humidity because of the recent rain.
I swallowed my saliva, and decided that I would try my luck with another place called, “Maryam Hospital”.
This place didn’t have a pharmacy. Thank God! Now nobody would excuse me for being a drug addict!
I slid past that door that sat below three stairs in the lower level. The receptionist there seemed to be a decent man, checking something on his phone. He looked like a middle-aged man with a recently clean shaved face. He roved his big amber eyes about my face.
“Hi…I need a doctor to get myself checked. I just need a prescription to show my HR that I need an immediate leave.”
He closed me off through a gesture, drowning his stare in that cell phone of his. I knew he was going to take his time.
“Do you want to sign an appointment for the nighttime?”
“No! I just told you I need to get immediately checked. Look, just point me in the direction of the doctor. I am not a drug addict in case you might think. I am just an office worker looking to return home early.”
Everything went smoothly as he looked at me from head to toe and then dialed the doctor’s number.
“The doctor will be with you shortly!”
I settled with a content heart on that cushioned seat at a corner while picking up a magazine from nearby. Soon the doctor would call my name and I would undergo a small checkup, and all of this would be over.
Instead, I saw two to three people calling me at once.
Those health workers looked more like health goons. I shot a dreaded stare in the direction of that receptionist who looked at me as if I had to return his money for a very long time.
“You should be ashamed of yourself! I just talked to your mother and she wants to get you tested. Now be a good boy!”
Those people headed towards me and I looked for a way out. Prescription is damned, I wanted to get the hell out of here! All doors were locked.
They grabbed me from a corner, restricting me completely. I didn’t pose much resistance to my already weakened body.
“You moron! You are mistaking me for someone else!”
He didn’t listen, instead of dialing another number. What I heard was the sound of a lady, sharp and scolding.
“Test him immediately and send me his reports! I wanna see if he is lying to me.”
I shouted at the top of my lungs.
“I am not your son!”
“I am no longer your mother now! Never show your face to me again!”
The weeping voice lashed at me in response.
That was it…wasn’t it? They dragged me to a side room and made me urinate in a bottle.
“Asswipes!” I kept wincing. Nobody listened. The real epiphany came when my urine had been tested. I sat there at the corner in silence, begging forgiveness from God for all my sins.
I was back at the same bench near the entrance. I saw that guilt-ridden receptionist in his nurse suit, marching straight towards me down the corridor. He held a few documents in his hands.
“Wait…you are completely drug-free!”
The receptionist concluded after giving me a thorough look.
“Man…I just need my prescription!”
I cried, the tears rolling down my cheeks.
“Sorry, the clinic is closed.”
This time I actually took off my shoes, both of them, and hurled them at his head. He spat at a corner and called his guards. I had to run with nothing but wet socks protecting my bare feet from the cold unforgiving road outside. I had forgotten how weak I was, as I managed to give those health goons a slip. I knew now that I was not going to be welcome in the clinics around this area anymore. Next time I would get sick, I would know where NOT to go.
I returned to my office, all broken in tears. The appearance I had was nothing but a shadow of myself when I had left this office.
Seemab was the last one in the office. It seemed she had been waiting for me.
“I didn’t get the prescription…” I cried.
“Bro, you were gone for like…2 hrs. Everybody is gone home. The prescription was needed for you to leave early. It is no longer needed. Also, you left without checking the clock. It was 17:30 and the office closes at 18:00.”
At that point, I just settled on the floor and started crying loudly.