They sat quietly in the waiting room, a dozen or so
unhappy men, and whiled away the time reading Gujerati and Hindu
periodicals they did not understand and promising themselves to
never, never ever go up dusty stairs again. The more mortified ones
hid their faces behind the periodicals, wisely provided by the doctor for
the purpose, and kept still until their names were called out.
“Jesse James,” next called the old attendant.
The man so called emerged from hiding and dashed into the
examination room, where the doctor waited with hypodermic needles
and sackfuls of capsules. The rest waited and read without
Doctor Patel had a wide collection of old magazines in his waiting room.
He understood it did not make any difference what reading material he
provided, since no one came there to read, and consequently sent his
attendant down River Road to buy the magazines by the kilo.
Juma the attendant had been with Doctor Patel for over twenty years.
During that time he had risen, mostly through self-promotion, from
toilet cleaner to messenger and tea maker, and finally, when times were
such that Patel could not afford a secretary, Juma had embraced the
position of the receptionist as well. When the clients skulked in he gave
them cards to fill in then stacked the cards on the table in the order of
arrival. Sometimes, when the traffic was heavy, as during the nylon
era, Juma could give injections and make like a medical assistant as
well. The two had been together for so long that Juma considered
himself the assistant doctor, when Patel was not around.
“William Tell,” the attendant called next, as Jesse James emerged from
the doctor’s room, limping from the injections.
William Tell dashed behind the smoked glass door to confess to the
doctor in low tones. No one would speak in a normal voice inside the
confessional for the others were probably listening from behind their
Gujerati magazines. It was a futile gesture. They all knew why they
were there. They may have met on their way up and down the dusty
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|copyright 2008 by HM Entertainment Inc.
|“ ...the stunning story of one man’s resistance to a system of intimidation and
corruption dominated by the ‘haves’ in a society of ‘have-nots’ and numerous
Meja Mwangi spins a fascinating tale of one man’s revolt against exploitation”.
The Daily Nation