In one of my earliest memories, my mother takes me to the doctor on a rickshaw. We trudge up the stairs to Dr. Satwant Singh’s one-room clinic and wait patiently on a wooden bench. Next to us sit a line of men in plain kurta pajamas and women in drab saris, local and poor, more or less like us.
Dr. Singh calls us behind the curtain that separates the waiting area from his desk. He places his stethoscope solemnly upon my chest, his index finger poised upon it and listening, his eyes shut. My mother’s eyes brim, her words falter. She waits with bated breath for the doctor’s pronouncement.
Dr. Singh scribbles on a cheap writing pad. My prescription is always the same, no matter the cause — I am given an unmarked vial of blood-red liquid decorated with a white strip of paper cut into a series of hexagons.
Did Dr. Singh’s medicine work? I cannot be sure, but my mother believed. Dr. Singh had gone to the same med school as my uncles. We held on to Dr. Singh’s vials and poured our faith into them. That is all we had in India in abundance: religion. Seeing Dr. Satwant Singh was my mother’s idea of
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