The Good Doctor

24 Oct

by Mani G. Iyer (re-posted from April 2011)

I remember, as a child
I would visit the good doctor’s dispensary
announce my arrival to his assistant
through a small square window, and
blend with his other patients
sitting on a hard wooden bench
breathing in the medicinal odors
staring at the photographs of his association, with
Bombay’s film stars for whom,
he had a separate air-conditioned waiting room with
plush cushioned seats.
 
When I was summoned inside
I would begin with my health complaints, and
the good doctor would always inevitably
ask me to open my mouth, and
point his sleek torch into the straining cavern,
nonchalantly look askance to
continue talking to his cronies,
father being one of them,
write out a prescription in a dirty scribble, which
I delivered to his assistant, who
promptly dispensed some gaudy multi-colored pills and
a viscous liquid poured into a calibrated bottle with
dosage instructions spit stuck on it, and
I would return home feeling happy, knowing,
the good doctor himself was an effective placebo.
 
I remember him often visiting our home
unannounced after a house call
informing mother, that
he craved for her special South Indian coffee and snacks
she would be too happy to cater to his fancies
the visit meant free health checkups for our family,
lots of wisdom and astrological predictions
astrology was something he dabbled into, under
the influence of father
there was this pleasant, ambient atmosphere that
his towering, charming personality radiated, and
we basked under it, though I would sometimes wonder about
the long line of patients on the hard wooden bench, when
he was with us.
 
The good doctor has passed away, I am told,
in a manner, befitting his goodness
an indelible period, after the long line of his
indecipherable prescriptions, and
I can imagine him chatting away with father
somewhere where the dead go, about
Indian politics, astrology, neighborhood affairs,
his failed ventures into film production
father would then pull out his beedi, light it, and
the good doctor would admonish him, to which
father would jokingly remind him,
they were dead.
 

Mani G. Iyer was born and raised in Bombay, India and has lived in the United States since 1985. He is deaf-blind due to Usher Syndrome.  He became deaf by the age of 4, night-blind by the age of 12, and now has very little usable vision.  Writing has always been a passion for Mani and he has just completed a writing fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center.  He has also just started a writing group called “The Good Word” and is now pursuing an MFA in creative writing.

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