Reading a post by Victo reminded me of someone.
Around 2009, five years into practice I had started doing Phaco cases. One of my first patients was Lal Singh. An octogenarian farmer, what you’d call ‘son of the soil’, always dressed in a simple white kurta-pyjama and a blue turban with a saffron band, a little bent with age and sporting a long flowing white beard.
The surgery went well and he was delighted with the results. Brought over his wife to get operated within a couple of weeks. I ended up operating on both their eyes and they were very grateful. Since then, whenever Lal Singh was in the neighborhood, he’d always drop in for a visit. He’d enter my chambers with his hands folded in a ‘namaste’, a smile on his face and always said that seeing me made his day. He’d almost always bring a small gift with him, guavas from a tree in his field or berries from a bush. He obviously wasn’t well-to-do but he hardly ever came empty-handed and those fruits were always delicious.
Once, when I returned from a week long vacation, he came to meet me. His grand-daughter had gotten married in the interim and he had saved up some sweet-meats for me (it’s called “bhaji” in North India, traditional sweets made at home for a wedding). He brought them in a worn plastic bag and they were a little stale and dried. I have received wedding invitations with boxes of dry-fruits, candied almonds and sugared cardamom and silver-plated stuffed dates and what not, but I don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything better than those stale “shakkar paraas” and “motichur laddoos”. It’s a pity I didn’t take a picture of them but then I was young in and in practice and thought there would be many, many more events like this. They were quite a few, to be honest, but I always thought there would be more. Pity!
So thank you Lal Singh, for the fruits and the ‘mithaai’ and the simple joy of watching you come in and tell me that I, as a doctor, was next to god.