Outside a clinic, hangs a board with smiling men and women in white coats. The text proclaims ‘Athena White’. A woman and a man in their thirties approach the clinic. They walk at a balanced distance, not as close as lovers, not as far as strangers, at the point of convergence called marriage. A receptionist with a dazzling smile greets them. He nods them in and asks them to wait in the reception area. He tells them, ‘The hygienist will call you in once the room is ready.’ The man meddles with his mobile while the woman takes in the atmosphere. The place looks as if it’s been refurbished since she was last here. Her eyes fall on the date flashing on the wall – 28/12/15.
After some time, the man gets a call on the phone and just then, an attender arrives to call them in. The husband gestures to his wife to go in first. She enters a room and sees hi-tech medical instruments – probes, scrapers, polishers and other assorted unnameable ones. The hygienist starts her work. She peers inside and says, ‘You have some deposits. Not much. But watch out for the sensitivity’. With her probing eyes, she picks up an sharp instrument. An attender stands close by, with a long tube to suck in the waste the hygienist dislodges. The hygienist painstakingly scrapes off the deposits.
‘When was the last time you were here?’, she asks.
‘In May’, comes the reply.
‘The sockets should be tighter. But they have loosened a bit. Add a massage routine everyday.’ she advises. The woman on the slanting couch, nods her head silently. As the hygienist proceeds, she squirms a bit as a sensitive nerve is touched now and then. The cleaning goes on nevertheless and finally, it is done. The woman scans around and feels it to be fresh and clean. Satisfied, she walks out and sends her husband in.
Taking a look at the man, the hygienist tells herself, ‘This is going to be a dicey one. At least his wife took some pains to routinely clean. He has been slack.’ It’s a painful, bloody affair, as the hygienist works her way around. But meticulously, she makes up for his lack of care and attention. Months of sediments peel away. Deep inside, the healthy and the unhealthy have gotten intimate and it’s hard to get them to break up.
‘Too busy a life he leads, no doubt’, the hygienist tells herself. After a long and soul-searching effort, the cleaning is complete. In spite of all the bleeding, she acknowledges the inherent strength. A lot of wear and tear but he’s essentially strong, she decides.
‘He certainly bites more than he can chew’ she quips to herself. While all these theories go on in her head, as a true professional, she gives nothing away. Done with her work, she smiles and recommends that it would be better for him to meet another specialist.
He comes out and his waiting wife sees traces of the strain and asks,
‘How was it? What did she say?’
‘Not a single problem. So perfect and fine!’, he replies.
They both start laughing.
She makes a face at him and asks, ‘How do I look?’
‘Great, as always!’, he replies.
The receptionist hands out the bill, with a even more dazzling smile. The woman settles it and they both get ready to leave. Just before she opens the door, as if she remembered something, the woman turns and asks the waiting hygienist,
“Your name? I want to recommend you to a friend. When did you join this place?’
The hygienist points to her badge with a smile, and says, ‘2114’.
It reads, ‘Mana, Mental Hygienist’.