Chapter  3, Pt 4 of 4


For a minute my mind went back to Muradpur, my husband’s native village, where, when I went as a young bride, I would sometimes hear sudden screaming from the neighbourhood. “What was that?” I would ask with great concern.

And Sheel would calmly answer. “I suppose some young wife has misbehaved and is getting a beating.” I would notice a mischievous twinkle in his eye, which almost amounted to saying “It can happen to you as well.”

“It cannot, and it would not happen to me,” I would say to myself. “I would not be living in the village long enough for that. But surely wife-beating cannot happen in England,” I pondered. But the sad and pleading eyes of the girl standing in front, convinced me that she was telling the truth. “All right, Doctor will be coming soon,” and as I said that I saw her running back as fast as she had come.

My mind was still puzzled. I knew if that had happened in our village, a kind neighbour, particularly an elderly lady would have gone and pacified the angry husband by putting him to shame and also by asking the young wife to take all the blame for the time being, and lo and behold, the storm would have abated in no time. But here it was different. People wanted no one but the doctor to get them out of any difficulty.

Sometimes inaccurate and badly timed messages caused many a small argument between Sheel and me, and the worst of it all was that I took everything so seriously. A single wrong message would sometimes disturb my peace of mind for the whole day. I envied Sheel for having the invaluable gift of remembering names. He not only remembered the surnames of a large number of his patients but also their Christian names. But to me the remembering of names seemed as difficult as the dates in the history books.

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