I have finally met him. The man my mind is so familiar with. You see, I have read many books. Definitely more than a hundred. A thousand? Maybe. And before I decided to focus on African literature with an exception to few other books, I read anything my hands got. From the famous kina Sheldon, Grisham and Patterson, to Siku Njema, to the series of Pesa zako zinanuka, to the less global, pacesetters. I only discrimated against horror or vampire ones. Those ones didn’t interest.
Now, if you are a reader like me, you must have also met him. That guy with a high IQ, experience in the US military or the navy, excellent camouflage skills ( can be anything you want him to be) and knows like ten languages(mandarin being one). That guy is not always the hero of the book, but the thrilling part of the book depends almost entirely on his intervention at crucial times. They never see him coming. They never know how skilled he is until he actually does something. He is never a show off. No one truly knows him. But he can be depended upon. And just in case you are wondering, its almost always a He. Does he sound familiar?
So I’m seated there with my cousin. Trying not to laugh or talk too much. My teeth look scary. That is somehow true, but in most cases they just look amusing. The guy waiting with us is kinda looking at us. And if my experience at the barber shop is anything to go by, then maybe he wants me to open my mouth so that he can confirm whether what he saw at first is for real. The chick at the barber shop kept on looking at me when I spoke. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid. Who knows, she could have been interested in the air behind me.
Anyway, so here we are, at the fourth or fifth dentist. The dentist isn’t here yet. This hosptial is full of young interns. Plus it isn’t overflowing with patients like other hospitals I’ve been to. Is this where I’ll finally start the reconstruction of my teeth? I don’t know, but it looks neat. And dependable. And suable. I’m planning on suing anyone who does a joke on my teeth.
That’s when he walks in. A tall man. He looks unsure of where he is going. Walks slowly. As if afraid of hurting invisible insects on the ground. He is Indian. This hospital is full of them. Maybe it belongs to them, going by the name, that is a likely possibility. But this guy doesn’t look like a patient. Or a visitor. He walks in the dentist office with a stoop. Could this be the dentist? I ask my cousin. None of us can guess.
The other patient gets called in. Then that tall guy, is definitely the dentist. And I get called in.
I wanted to tell you about my first dental experience. About the drilling, plumbing, engineering, squeezing, poking, knocking, cleaning, swooshing, splashing, removing and putting back , among many other things that happened in my mouth. For like one hour thirty minutes, I opened my mouth while things were done in there. I really wanted to explain what it felt like to have strange things be put inside your mouth: strange tasting liquids, colgate like substances etc. Spitting blood over and over again. And the worst of all, coming out of there feeling like my lips are a kilometer long and my front teeth like 20cm huge.
But after the pain subsided, and my mouth felt normal, one thing remained from all that experience. The dentist. He felt like that man from those countless books I’ve read. Like him being a dentist is just one of the a thousand things he’s good at. He also felt like a ghost. I couldn’t hear him coming into the room, but I could feel his presence.
I don’t even remember his face right now. Nor his voice. Yet it was just yesterday. But I remember what he said. How he said it. How he moved.
Maybe its in my mind. Or maybe it isn’t. Maybe its a hangover symptom from a book I just finished reading that had that Guy. Maybe it was my mind’s own way of coping with what was happening to part of the body’s anatomy. Had I not been in a hospital, like if I woke up in the middle of that procedure, I would have assumed I was in a witch’s hut. Witchcraft must feel like that. But maybe that guy is just that, a very tall guy, who happens to be a dentist, who smokes, walks noicelessly, etc. Maybe it is just a coincidence that my mind associated that famous guy that thrillers like using, to this tall dentist. (NB; he was really really tall- less than a cm from reaching the door frame).
But all I know, is that my dentist, reminded me of that man who kept me opening page after page way after my sleeping time. He isn’t noticeable. Or likeable. He is portrayed as having no emotions. We never know where he comes from. Or where he goes after the last full stop. He gets no medal. No honor ( some other character usually pretends to have been the hero).
But one thing always happens, he saves the day.