It was the worst of times, it was the couldn’t have been worse of times. It was the age of defeat, the epoch of pain, the epoch of incredulity. It was the season of plight, it was the season of darkness. Spring brought no hope and winter was truly coming.
The mood was glum. The weather, oh so plum. In October last year, I found myself nursing a broken heart with my scaly left palm and a throat that was heavily parched. “Incapable of love”, she had seemed to indicate. “You never know, you never try, you love yourself and nothing else!” But what else must I do my love? I tried to reasonably reason. Maybe the two of us just need a little more time? “No!” I do love you but must I love your pet Jaju too? “Yes!” Oh please, please, this is unfair. “He’s not a pet you know!” she retorted with some belief. “The family has spoken. He stays but you must leave.”
It was with traces of such dogged nostalgia that I sunk towards the local dive, to drown my sorrows in another few more pints. And things would’ve gotten deep and dark again I promise, had I not seen, through the corner of my eye, an old familiar face, sitting alone by the bar, lost in a few himself. A face so opportune I tell you, that I can only describe it as a fresh beam of hope in an otherwise unflattering year. Could it really be him…Dr. Love?
Back then we just called him Dr. Love. The Dr. was honorary, the Love was necessary. He was that kinda guy. Smooth with the ladies, the guy who knew the works. What must be said when, to whom, with how much emphasis. Venus was saturn in front of him. He could predict her moves with uncanny accuracy, making him the slickest, slyest beast I’d ever met. Lessons would be learnt just by observation. Notes would be taken. Classes would be had after hours. If you were friends, he would offer personal advice, sometimes even a few minutes to explain the intricate dynamics of the game. Young students would camp outside his room for hours and the college radio begged him repeatedly for a segment every year. But he, Dr. Love, kindly refused each time, choosing to live and lead by example instead. He never ever disclosed the statistics mind you, but I can tell you they were many. For over the years, he had collected each story, made meticulous notes as would a man of such high passion, and built on his able repertoire. The strike rate was par excellence. In fact by our final years together, some young enthusiasts had even bestowed him the famed honor of the F.R.C.S. – for his work in the field of Far-Reaching Coitus Solutions. Dr. Love. (FRCS). Ah, what a guy. Life for him, one could safely presume, was all but hubba bubba.
And what luck I told myself to have found the man himself, sitting next to me on such a dire depressing day. If there was anyone who could help me, it was surely the doctor of love.
‘Dr. Love? I approached with a gingerly grin. So many years it’s been’.
‘Ah yes. I did see you there. How were you old friend?’
‘Life is well. But love, Dr. Love, love has served me a bitter pill. In fact that’s what I wished too d…’
I felt inclined to pause midway. Something told me that things were not as I had imagined. His face lacked the fresh cinnamon smile I had so admired, replaced sharply by thick brown cracks of age; the hair, almost always oozing with confidence and musk had now virtually disappeared. His breath was warm, the voice raspy.
‘And please’, he gently reminded, ‘just Luv for now. L.U.V. I’ve dropped the O. Couldn’t stand the E.’
I’m sad to report but he looked a man hardened by years. A retired general who had clearly resigned from his past glory. He looked the part who could’ve been, should’ve been, but must’ve been party to a crucial error somewhere.
In his case, I quickly gathered over our next few rounds, it was the ridiculous choice of actually pursuing his stage name legitimately. Medicine is not much like love, Luv? I supposed. But the name, he sighed, the name had become quite personal. Dr. Love. He just couldn’t stand the thought of letting the Dr. go; after all it did take years in the making.
Now its not that he wasn’t a bright man. Oh he was as sharp. Retention, as you would well know, is a crucial part of the mating game. And there was no one better at remembering names, numbers, quirks and figures than Dr. Love himself. Knowledge, he often said in our weekly foyer sessions, is all but what separates the soup from the sex.
Alas. It was this very knowledge that seemed to have stabbed him in the back.
You see, a man of such wit and mind finds it hard to separate himself from the subject at hand. And while medicine was clearly not his first choice, it was by virtue of proximity that he developed a fond liking for the nuances of the human anatomy. The eyes were his favorite. Her iris and retina, the way her pupils dilated when they’d had a few. He loved the hair too. The thin shafts and bridles that touched her face, tickling her cuticles till they snuck out from under their tender buds and follicles. It was a different kind of high. The lips and skin he savored for the weekends. The contact of her upper vermillion border with his made him tremble in his place and dare he refuse the commands of her cutaneous touch. Goose flesh were created and destroyed on request. And the uvula. Oh what a mystery! What a sensation that palatine uvula!
But as all doctors would reluctantly confirm, his heart was truly in the heart. Her ventricles created a different vibe, the left and right beating in rare exotic rhythm. He was a prisoner to her pulse. Holding hands but never ever missing a count.
This was his life now. And as you might have guessed, the reason for his demise. For how could a man love another, when he saw her as more flesh and blood, and less love and lust? Women, he explained in real time, were now nothing more than mere skeletons of a prettier kind. Their flesh was all but regular flesh, their touch nothing more than mere friction of bones. He had seen the world naked. And frankly, he wasn’t impressed.
‘But, umm, is there nothing you can do to stop this Dr. umm, Luv?’
‘Stop? Hah. Can one unlearn what one has truly learnt? Knowledge, my friend, can never be erased.’
His head shrunk into the glass again. I could see he needed that final gulp. The man had lost everything he had ever known. His moves were now useless, all that expertise a waste. He had been a bachelor ever since. I took a few gulps myself.
‘Umm, uh about my problem Luv? Is there anyway you can help? Anything at all? I’ll take anything.’
He shrugged again, stooping low and very wide. ‘What can I give you my friend? There’s nothing to offer anymore. Medicine has sterilized my love. All I have is this’, he said, throwing a few sheets of paper bound together in a tight white binder. ‘I was planning to send it to the Journal of Medical Sciences today. But I don’t really care.’
‘You can have it if you like. It’s got everything I know. And everything I never wanted to know.’