My father was a doctor. I admired his professional service, but I had a nagging suspicion. Suppose his patients turn out to be rogues, and scoundrels? Suppose they kidnap him? I don't know why, but my infantile mind was clouded with such thoughts. I viewed most of the people who came looking for him, with a suspicion. This one looks suspect, this one has a leering look on his face, and this one has that Shakesperean lean and hungry look. This would go on and on.
Now in retrospect I think I was an obsessive and suspicious maniac. But, I would waitlist every patient who came looking for my father- with: '' what is your name, where do you live? he is not here now, come tomorrow''. In fact it was putting off behaviour. But I simply did not like people intruding into my house and demanding that my father go to their homes. Why should he do that? I thought.
At night especially if I heard the door bell ring, I would jump out and ask him with apprehension:'' Where are you going, how long will it take, don't go now'' etc.
You see deep inside I had this fear that there were harmful forces out to destroy him. Is this how a twelve year should think? But that is how I did. Compared to many he was wealthy I thought, suppose they take money from him forcibly, kidnap him, all sorts of morbid thoughts entired my fertile mind. I hated to see him leave especially at night. Ask them to take you in their car I demanded. This obsession with fear and monomania continued even till college. Sometimes I despised patients coming to him at night. "Doctor" they would say "Can you come home my mother is not feeling well".
But in many of these incidents of late night visits he would come home and would silently slip into bed without uttering a word. In those moments I used to ask him, what happened, what is the illness, how is the patient? And in most cases he would say: "He is dead" and quietly go to his room.
Such moments I found stifling; these were my first incursions into the phenomenon of death and what life is. The two antinomies thrust upon me like the devil playing a game of hide and seek.
One particular day in a jovial mood my father told me that he would visit the nearby hospital as a patient was there. Just a simple operation of gall bladder stones he said. I haven't seen him let me just have a look.
He came back livid. What happened I asked? I went to the room and found he was not there. I thought he was discharged. So, is everything alright I asked, when was he discharged.
He has been discharged from life, my father replied.
From that day onwards I knew what a doctor's life was, is and what it meant to my doctor father.