I had a sore throat and a fever. At eight, that meant, no school!
I was happy, but my mother insisted father take me to a doctor.
We went to see a doctor who was my father’s friend.
He had a ‘clinic’ near our house, which was always empty. The room had a desk and three chairs. On the desk were some bottles full of candy-balls in different colours.
“What stocks are doing well?” father said.
“Invest in metals, the property market is also doing well,” said the doctor.
They discussed the stock market for an hour.
Father thanked him, and on the way out said,” He has a sore throat.”
“Gargle with salt water, eat warm food, ” the doctor said.
He gave me a few candy balls of each colour.
I liked the doctor and his treatment method.
This story is slightly old. I was a student in a school in north India. In our class was a boy from a European country. I will skip the details about his name, country of origin to avoid hurting anyone’s sentiments.
His father was a pilot, and they were in India as part of a delegation instructing Indian Air Force pilots how to fly a fighter jet that had come in from their country.
I am from South India. My skin tone a shade darker than the rest of the children in my class. Every time I passed this kid, he would throw racial slurs at me.
Even today, forty-three years after this incident, I remember every word he said. It never occurred to me to complain to the teachers. Nor did I ever have the urge to kick him. All I would do was walk by, feeling sad. I would have loved to be his friend. Talk to him, learn more about his country and maybe a little bit of his language! He left our school after a couple of months. Over the years, I have met and worked with folks from different parts of the world. I realized that not everyone has this air of racial superiority. There are good, decent, hard-working human beings in every corner of the world.
That said, even today, after all these years, what amazes me is how an eight-year-old child could bring himself to abuse another eight-year-old. Did he somehow feel that he was superior to me due to his skin tone?
Is this feeling of racial superiority inherited or indoctrinated? I never got the answer to any of these questions then.
Watching the news, I guess I will never get the answer to some of these questions.
There were two shops on our street. One run by two boys hardly got any customers. The other run by a middle-aged man had a large clientele. That man would keep his customers standing while he gossiped endlessly.
“How are your studies progressing? Why are you so bad in mathematics? When is your daughter getting married?” his questions never ended.
The boys in sharp contrast only cared about their work.
I left the area and settled far away.
Returning a decade later I was surprised, both the shops were still there.
The boys, young men now, had a roaring business, while the man hardly had any customers.
I visited both shops.
“You have gained some weight” was what I heard in one shop.
In the other, all I got was a smile and, ” How can we help you?”
The shopkeepers were the same, but the customer attitudes had evolved.