(This is the fifth part of a short story No stranger bond. You can find the full story here .)
One morning as Sharada entered the dialysis unit, she saw Shuja getting dialyzed on her usual bed. She saw a new patient on Shuja's bed. She seethed with rage. She called out to the technician in-charge and asked why Shuja was on her bed. The technician tried to calm her down and explained that they had an emergency that morning which they happened to take on Shuja's usual bed. Shuja had come earlier than her and asked to be dialyzed in the closest available bed to his usual - Sharada's usual bed.
Sharada was furious. How dare he take my bed? The technician requested her to get dialysis in another bed. Sharada angrily walked to the other bed. She was upset for the whole session. Shuja realized what had happened. He did not care though. It was not his fault.
As she was leaving after her session finished, Sharada went over to the lead technician and told him sternly, "Don't give my bed to anyone else, understand?"
"Yes ma'am", the technician replied.
The next session both were on their regular beds. The dialysis unit had a television set for every patient. The only problem was they did not have headsets. They however had an unwritten rule that the volume should be at a level so that you can hear but at the same time not disturb the other patients. Sharada switched to a Tamil channel that was showing some devotional songs and increased the volume so that it would disturb Shuja. Shuja was watching the news. He realized what the old lady was trying to do. He ignored it for a while. Sharada increased the volume even more.
Shuja called out to the technician and complained. The tech requested Sharada to reduce the volume. Sharada refused. "There is no rule about TV volume!"
The tech looked at Shuja helplessly. Shuja decided to take things into his own hands. He increased the volume of his television set as well. Sharada increased the volume of her set even more. Shuja did the same. The technician was wondering what to do. The noise in the usually peaceful dialysis unit was becoming unbearable. The other patients were all getting disturbed as well. The cacophony had by then woken up all patients.
Just then, thankfully, Dr. Bhalla entered the unit. Both Shuja and Sharada instantly muted their TV sets! The technician burst out laughing. Dr. Bhalla asked him why he was laughing. The technician shook his head and said, "Nothing, sir!"
Most dialysis units take in patients in order of their arrival. First come first served kind of a thing. Shuja generally got there before Sharada. The techs would prepare Shuja's machine before starting to prepare Sharada's machine keeping this in mind.
One morning, Sharada planned to get there earlier than usual. Shuja's machine was already ready. Her's was being readied. She checked her weight and went and sat on her bed. In the meantime, Shuja walked in. Since his machine was already ready, the tech went over to Shuja's bed to begin his dialysis. Sharada asked him why he was doing this? She pointed out that she had come before him.
"Yes, ma'am, but his machine is already ready."
"Why did you make his machine ready when I came first?"
"Ma'am, usually he comes first, that's why!"
"I don't care. I came first. My dialysis should start before his."
Shuja stepped in. "My machine is ready. What difference does it make if my session starts first?"
"It is not a question of what difference does it make. I came first. So my session starts first."
Shuja did not think it worthwhile to argue further. He told the tech to start her session first.
Sharada got even angrier. "Who are you to tell the technician what to do? I don't need your kindness! You start his session first!"
The technician started Shuja's session first marveling at how life makes old people behave so much like kids.