It took yet another pass at me- this time by a totally unexpected person- which has left me nonplussed and introspective on what actually is going on with my life. I have heard of this kind of shock before- of how rape victims frequently blame themselves for provoking the incident somehow and wonder whether they were inappropriately dressed. For your information, I was quite appropriately dressed in full professional get-up, long-sleeved shirt et al, for this was a work related incident.
It all started with a call from a friend of many years , lets say dr.A, who called me up to tell me that he had recommended me to a Doctor couple who were running a very flourishing practice in the city and who wanted a consultant in my speciality. dr.A had been a consultant there for some time previously before setting up on his own account and had vouched for me as being able to fit their requirements. Being a free-lance consultant (why?- is another story) I depend on such word of mouth endorsements to pick up new consultations. And so I decided to accept my friends recommendation and turn up there for meeting the doctor the very next day.
One clinching factor for this promptness was the information that A gave me to the effect that Dr.V- the Senior specialist had a good-looking daughter of marriageable age doing Postgraduation in our speciality and being a only daughter will most probably end up with the Hospital, practice and all the rest. My friend A had tried to pick her up when he was working there and had been snubbed- he hoped I had better luck. Well, I thought, it all depended on how she looked- if she wasnt upto scratch- I’ll just stick to consultation, was what I thought when i went there the next day for the interview.
After the mandatory hour of waiting, in an empty waiting room- with no patients- which is par for the course for any junior doctor when you have to meet seniors (the situation is even worse in corporate hospitals where they give you a morning appointment for interview and make you wait till the evening, informing you throughout the day that your interview will start in the next ten minutes sir, so please dont go away anywhere), I was invited inside the consultation room by Dr.V and grilled on all aspects of my training and previous experiences. He then called over his wife on the intercom and after a few whispered comments directed me to go over to the next cubicle where his wife- who he said was the administrator of their hospital would go over the rest of the minor details, presumably my payment details.
I made my way over next door, knocked and went in. The room was bigger, better furnished (coffee table and matching sofa’s and mood lighting) and incredibly posh-looking than Dr.V’s small and cramped consultation room- maybe the perks of being the administrator of finances, while dr.v was merely the earner of them. And waiting there was Dr.V’s better-half who was really his better-half, making you wonder how such a man had married such a voluptous woman. Ok, now I had high hopes for the daughter- if she had got her moms looks, was what I thought. She sat there at her desk and prattled on about Dr.A and the happy time he had working there and how much he had learned in their hospital to give him enough confidence to start his own practice and then she suddenly slapped her head over her forgetfulness to ask me to sit down and invited me to take my seat at one of the sofa’s surrounding the coffee table, rather than at the desk opposite her(surprisingly).
To my surprise and mild shock, Mrs.V, came over and sat down right beside me- cosy as two long lost friends meeting up. As she spoke the necessary preliminary pleasantries, her sleeveless blouse exhibited an in-apppropriate amount of cleavage- I took this for a test to check where I looked- so studiously avoided looking there- as i was sure that I was interviewing not just for the post of consultant but also (if possible)future son-in-law. As we were discussing the frequency of my visits and fees (ridiculously low, if you ask me- but I was there with bigger fish to fry, so I did’nt mind), she casually draped a arm over the back of my sofa right over my shoulder blades and leaned closer towards me.
As we were sitting side-by-side facing each other this put me in an extremely uncomfortable position of not avoiding whatever was on show (which included- yeech- an unshaved armpit with revolting tufts of underarm hair- when will women learn that wearing sleeveless involves having perfect underarm hygiene maintenance?). As I was twisting and turning with discomfort, trying not to even accidentally touch her, she made a honest-to god-pass at me- asking me to schedule my visits on thursday afternoons as Dr.V usually took the day off and left it to just the consultants and her- with a wink and a saucy smile which spoke volumes.
I stared, blinked and stared again (mouth hanging open?)- maybe I had imagined it? Maybe my contact lenses were playing tricks with the low-lighting of the room. But my instincts were screaming like hell- get the hell out of there before this goes an further- I was so afraid to open my mouth and say something/anything which might come back to haunt me in the future. Scared, stammering and apologizing profusely, I pleaded a prior appointment (forgotten till now) and promising to call Dr.V that evening to confirm my taking up the position- I escaped from that place.
It was only when I reached home -that the shit hit me- what the fuck, I asked myself- I looked on her as a possible mother-in-law and she looks on me as a possible sex partner? Was I getting that old? That henceforth I would be hit on by aunties and not girls? It was a shocking and sobering though that maybe I had somehow sent mixed signals to her which had provoked her pass- was I so sexually starved that unknown to me I was putting it out there? I had considered myself a reluctant ascetic (being single, what other choice had I?)- but maybe, just maybe, my (enforced) abstinence was sending out all the wrong signals. A lot of confusing thoughts and feelings were overwhelming me. I have been hit on before- it was inevitable in the profession- but that had always been within my own age range and I had known how to turn them down gently without hurting any feelings or causing any complications. But this was the first time a woman old enough to be my mum had hit on me- and I was really shaken by the experience.
I called up Dr.V and respectfully informed that I declined his offer due to the long distance commute involved and my previous and other professional commitments. He was sarcastic and downright insulting about the younger generation and their lazy attitudes and inability to work hard even if the remuneration was rewarding, but I took all the blows on the chin and hoped that things end with this and take no further turns or twists.
Footnote: I called up A and complained about my experience and he merely laughed and said it was one of the perks of the job- to screw the boss’s wife and why woud’nt I enjoy it too? For the miserly pittance Dr.v paid to his consultants (using their junior status to rob them blind)- this was the way to getting back at him. And as all the other consultants, including him, over the years, had indulged this fetishism of Mrs.V -without it getting known to Dr.V all these years why would I alone be afraid and run out of there? I cursed A and promised to get out to Tambaram this Sunday (to his clinic) and kick his ass in person for misleading me like this and getting me caught in such a bind. He was laughing hilariously as I cut the call……