Author: Arkapravo Bhaumik

I am sitting outside the Department of Surgery & Smart Implants and I can see the operation theatre beyond the glass door. Radha is clasping my palm tightly. We both know that this has to be done, and we have discussed it between the two of us a number of times – be it as a casual banter over a cup of coffee or as an emotional vent-out similar to the Oprah Winfrey show of nearly three decades ago. If that was not enough, we took the opinion of three different surgeons in as many different medical centers, discussed it with our children, our neighbors and even our cousins who are halfway across the globe, and then swamped at least eight different forums on the Internet with a ton of questions. Now, with less than fifteen minutes to go, my mouth feels dry and I can feel her pulse quickening.

Radha breaks the uncanny silence, “You will come back as a metal man?” I wink at her and then with a hint of sarcasm in my tone, I say, “Maybe you should code-in three laws for me.”

Being together for 42 years, I know my wife very well and just as I had anticipated she purses her lips, rolls her eyes and then lectures me. “First law: The Terminator should be the personal property of me – Radha Chatterjee and all directives given by me should be God’s own will” As she speaks I see a hint of a smile on her lips.

I pause, look at her and acquiesce to the first law. She continues, “Second law: The Terminator should join me for all my meals at my table, even though he is not supposed to eat.” I add in a sub-clause, “ … that happens only if you let the Terminator gets to put on his favorite music, which can vary from Mahler to Strauss to Tchaikovsky.” She slowly nods, pretends to grudgingly agree to my sub-clause.

“Third law: A time will come when I may be needed to be made into a Terminator and I will expect Arun – my Terminator to respect and support my decision.” I knew this was coming at some point, Radha had not completely embraced the new age medical technology for prolonging life and vitality – hence her coining of the funny, yet borderline racial tag of ‘Terminator’. She has never been at ease with replacing the body with metal implants and reinvigorating the brain with electronic chips. How I hold up to this radical change in me will influence her decision in the near future. I cannot continue to be fully biological with multiple organ failures and a fast fading brain and after working with known traditional medical procedures for a long time, our family doctor had suggested for this.

Radha looks at me, “So, third law …?” I smile in agreement.

“Mr. Chatterjee” I turn my head to find my doctor, he pauses and looks at both of us and greets us with a smile and then says, “It is about time, I will call the nurses and the stretcher to help you into the operation theatre.” He smiles again in affirmation and walks into the operation theatre.

I turn to give Radha a hug, after which she batters her eyes in a childish manner and bids me goodbye and then fighting off tears and in a choking voice says, “… come back for me, and I can learn to kiss your lips made of steel.”