The Medicine Bag


I almost called him out, my son,
Who is hurrying to his office.
He looked nervous and tension ridden.
I remembered how my father used to call me
When I was preparing for office:
“Two strips of Dytide, Deryphyllin and sixty multi vit
That will suffice for the month. I have exhausted them all
And there is no tablet for the evening. Don’t forget”

When I return empty-handed in the evening forgetting about his medicines
I used to reply in juvenile anger for his enquiries
‘How many times should I tell you dad, not to wait till
You have exhausted all your medicines to remind me?
Why don’t you tell me two or three days in advance?’
Taking it in his stride, he would coolly say,
‘Never mind, my child.
In the afternoon while I was browsing through the medicine bag
I found two tablets. I can manage for the night. Get me tomorrow.’

My father was so meticulous about taking medicines on time
That even my doctor cousin used to wonder.
He had such an extraordinary control over himself
That once, affected with TB, when the doctor advised him
To give up smoking— his habit for forty years… he gave it up
From that very evening.

His medicine bag my mother got as legacy.
Of course, she was a complete antithesis to my father.
Until almost three years before her death
She abhorred going to a doctor
And taking medicines of any kind.
‘I would rather suffer the disease
Than gobble up those medicines day in and day out’ she used to say.
And in her last days, when she took every tablet,
And every injection without a demur,
I knew it was just to satisfy me than any more love for her life.
She became a total introvert awaiting her last hour.

My father walked away with death, so to say,
When he got into the auto himself, on way to the hospital,
Three hours before his death.
My mother, I had a hunch, had exercised her will
To time her end, as to no longer to burden me.

Then, can I choose my time without troubling my children?
What if I had missed my course for the day?
Why not I endure my senility with poise?
Can there be a greater course to health
Than to smile away my illness in the company
Of tiny tots… the roots of my family tree?

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