There was never time for illness or disease in the lower middle class. It was not in the terms of the many jobs or unwritten commitments that came free with being poor, together. If you spent the good part of your morning half hour rituals waiting on two days worth of relief until your hemorrhoids burned holes into the crease of your pants, you just pulled them up, and never sat down on the bus to, or at work. And ate a banana. If you coughed up blood, you just hid it in the secret confines of fold number one of a handkerchief, and moved on. To fold number two or three. And hope that the wife can `blue' it the next day.
But Saturday mornings are different. When the women are away, haggling over rationing scrawny chicken or goat offals for a well deserved weekendly one meal of meat, the men form a Saturday morning slippery line of disease, some obvious and crippling, and others unknown for want of money, a physician, or often so, the will to be diagnosed.
The crunching of umbrellas and steady centimeter by centimeter impetus of overflowing un- or disconnected drains, and dirty rain – onomatopoeic of impending infections and epidemics. The line moved slowly. Two of the duty doctors were sick and had to get in line themselves. There is something magically full of ailments about the monsoons, so freshly sick, and ripe.
Dr. Iniyan waited with his Doctor card, patiently. One by one, as the men fluffed their oily morning hair before entering a hopeful promise of good health by Monday, and left with secret scribbles in a tongue that only the Doctors and the pharmacists spoke. Dr. Iniyan didn’t need a note. He had written his own, signed off with an Rx. When it was finally his turn, he smiled and handed it to the poor lubber of a pharmacist that was perhaps receiving his own fair share of mixed infections this weekend.
Content with a brown-bagged bottle of Government alcohol, Dr. Iniyan poisoned his Saturday afternoon tea. Everything is good spiked.