I was waiting for my turn outside the eye OPD when the nurse announced my name. I jumped out of my chair and hurried to the optometrist room. He asked me to cover my right eye and read the alphabets approximately 20 feet away. Then repeat with the left eye. I read almost all the rows with great agility except for the last few words that appeared hazy. A bit unsure, but I read them as “W” and “M”.
He scribbled on my card 6/6 and asked me to concentrate on the tip of his pen. He moved it from left to right, top to bottom, far and near constantly reminding me not to move my neck around just the eyes. Pleased with the results he asked me,
What brings you here?
I came for a regular examination.
Disbelieving, he asked, where are you from?
Oh! I just live across the street.
Well, not many people visit us just for a regular examination. It’s a rarity he affirmed.
I smiled agreeably not revealing that I came to the city for a short vacation.
He asked me to wait outside for the senior doctor to examine my retina. He also explained that the nurse will administer a few sets of eye drops to dilate my pupil.
I took some magazines from the rack to read, but the chatter in the room was quite distracting. I was not carrying my smart phone today, so there were no games, no videos, no emails and neither social media to connect to. Well, I just have to wait.
I was gazing at the people around when I noticed a three-year-old boy wearing a red tee and khaki shorts just a few seats away watching me closely. When I matched his gaze, he shyly turned around and hugged his mother. Almost instantly he looked back to see if I was still watching him. This time he smiled and I reciprocated.
Acknowledgement, admiration, compliments followed by a session of peek-a-boo laid the foundation of our friendship.
The couple seated beside me started smiling too, and the next one and the next. I neither knew this young boy’s name nor did I know where he came from, yet I felt a connection. He had livened up the entire room. It was way more than watching a movie, more than playing video games and certainly more than being connected on social media.
The nurse announced his name and he walked smiling into the Doctor’s room with his mother.
Happiness in this brief exchange was indeed contagious.