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The date was circled off in red across most of the world. It was the World Cup Cricket 2011 final. Red ink was invented only to circle off dates like these.
A horde of cousins and friends had already invited themselves to our place to inaugurate our big screen TV on this auspicious occasion. A lavish food and drinks menu was chalked off, edited and reedited until unanimously approved. It was going to be some evening.
Unfortunately, my boss back then used to get into a bout of severe hypoallergenic reaction at the mere mention of the word “leave”. While she would usually make me feel I owed her one for allowing me to slog my backside off, every time I would timidly wring my hands and mumble incoherently about a day or two off, she would frown as if I wanted to use her leaves.
My holidays used to be planned as per her convenience, if at all. Yes, she had generously taken up the additional responsibility of deciding how many days I needed to travel for, when, and whether at all a break was necessary. Only to encourage independent decision-making capabilities, she used to leave it to me to decide the destination and the company.
But this time, I couldn’t afford to let her decide when I needed to take a day off. With my luck, she would have decided that allowing me to take the day after the World Cup final off would be the least inconvenient for her.
Then God sent me a gift. A toothache. A back tooth had been troubling me on and off for a few weeks, and when it got pretty unbearable, I went to the dentist (‘unbearable’ is the first stage when going to the dentist even crosses my mind) and was told to my horror that I needed an immediate root canal. While the sadistic dentist was deriving some devilish pleasure out of describing the process to me, I grinned. The doctor stopped short in shock, but my mind was already in hypergear. I was going to cash in on my bad tooth.
The dentist prescribed painkillers for the next 3 days, and asked me to come back on the fourth day to get the root canal done. I did take the painkillers. For 15 days.
I made an appointment for the root canal on the 16th day, the morning of the final match, and with a different dentist, because I didn’t want to answer any awkward questions.
After going through an half hour during which my respect for our freedom fighters increased a few hundred folds, I came out with what I had put my body at risk of painkiller overdose for – a doctor’s certificate.
If people started perusing the small prints on investment forms with the diligence that my boss engaged while examining my medical certificate the next day, our streets would be covered with investment conmen sprawled out, homeless and starving. In fact, I wouldn’t have been shocked if she asked me to open my mouth wide and go aaaa so she could cross-check. And all this time, I kept up a steady I-have-gone-through-so-much expression while mumbling about how it was an emergency and any delay would have triggered off some horrid infection. I was just about to launch into a description of the hypothetical infection to gross her out of keeping me in her cabin any longer, when she made a grunting noise and shoved the certificate in a drawer.
Both India and I had won.