Buy One, Get One Free
by Kumuda Purushotham
The phone rang.
My daughter's voice floated from across the seas.
"Hello dear. Your voice is not with usual verve. What is the matter?
'Not feeling very well"
"Nothing at all. Just that I don't feel well."
"Any fever, headache,upset stomach?"
"A big NO for all your queries."
"Are you eating well?"
" No. Can't eat more than a morsel or two"
"My God! It is due to poor function of the liver I bet.Do you remember your ajji
used to make the delicious jeera kashayam
when anyone lost apetite in the family Prepare and drink one cup twice a day for four days." I prescribed the dosage sounding exactly like a doctor.
"Don't even suggest it. Mere mention of kashayam
makes me throw up."
"Do you sleep well at least?"
" Not at all. To date have counted millions of sheep every night but sleep has evaded me."
"Oh my poor child. Do not worry. I will pray at lord Rama's shrine to direct Kumbhakarna whom he vanquished in battle, to shower his grace on you for a sound sleep."
"Amma,please don't try. None can help. I have to suffer my karma. Leave me alone"****
Our conversation continued in this vein for some months.
Once she was silent for a couple of weeks. Full of anxiety I called her on a Sunday. The phone kept ringing unanswered. As I was about to give up I heard her low and tired voice.
"Why so long to pick up the phone? Thought you were not home"
"Not at home! That's a big joke. Not stirred out of the house for days now. I am unable to walk easily. That's why I took so much time to walk from my bed to the telephone"
"Really? Are you so sick?"
"Yes amma. Am suffering a lot"
"Right now go to a hospital to consult a specialist."
"Why? Why should I consult some one when I know there is no remedy for this condition?"
So my 'Madam know it all' was at work again.
"Why have you to decide everything? May be doctors in such advanced country will have some solution for your ailment."
"Amma, this is a doctor speaking to you. Forgot that you insisted I study medicine to provide succour to all the sick people of this world ...blah...blah .That was the lecture you delivered before you packed me off to the medical school"
I bit my tongue and replaced the receiver. *****
Another week gone and the phone rang again. Unusually it was my son in law at the other end.
"Hello mother, how are you?"
"I am well son. Tell me how is she? I am beset with anxiety on account of her health. Can I talk to her?"
"Sorry mother. She is unable to speak right now. Sleeping completely exhausted."
"At this hour? Please don't hide anything from a mother. What is really wrong with her?"
"I am coming to that. Today at 4.15 pm she delivered a baby girl"
"WHAT! A baby girl? was she....was she...?"
"Yes, she was pregnant."
"Why didn't she tell me all these months? My God! What a surprise!"
"Exactly mother.That's what we wanted to give you. A big SURPRISE. We have a daughter."
Did I detect a tinge of regret in his voice or was I imagining?
"Son, I know the men in our society want only sons.But how can life go on with only men around?There should be balance in nature. Beleive me. Daughter is a blessing always. Daughters stand by parents through thick and thin. Don't feel upset. You will get a son next time."
"There is no next time mother."
"Don't say that.There will always be a next time if God wills it so."
"God has already willed it. A few minutes after the girl was born your daughter delivered a baby boy."
"You mean....you mean..." I couldn't go on.
"Yes. We are the proud parents of twins!"
I ran to my husband with tears of joy streaming down my cheeks.
Indeed the creator had decreed "Buy one,get one free." *****