Now that it looks like I will be leaving the hills of Palamu for other shores,I have been trying to sit down assimilate and figure out the things I will surely miss.
On top of the list definately were the faces of two old ladies who come regularly to collect their medicines ,one a diabetic and the other a patient of heart disease .Both of them live two districts away and they make their journey through trains and busses every three months to collect their medicine stock.I have tried so many times to pursuade them to buy their medicines from a place near where they live ,they insist on travelling to the hospital every month-their arguement is that the medicines they get here are hard to get elsewhere.Hard to believe but they do bring joy to my heart whenever they show their faces.
Gunjar Devi could be sixty or ninety.She barely has any teeth left.She has pierced two big holes in her ear lobes where she dangles a big silver ear-stud around three inches big.She addresses me as her 'hakim'.Whenever she waddles in to the OPD,she likes to be fussed over.She starts narrating her problems mixed with her household struggles.She talks about her husband often ,a railway gaurd who I believe sleeps on a chair which lies just below the wall clock.The moment the bell goes ding-dong he has to wake up and get the signal ready.I can never quite work out the logistics of his work she describes in her dehati language but I find her narration extremely charming as she goes ding-dong!ding-dong!She talks about her son who has had a fracture and was being treated by an orthopaedician and how it cost her family twenty grands before he was ready to go home.
This old lady ,expresive in her simple way, warms my heart .
There is Kaushilya Devi,all of sixty,robust ,tall and colourful and quite a bully!She spots a bindi on her forehead and walks with a stick.
Each time she walks into the out-patient,she empties her bag before me to show the contents,and she bullies me!she wants to be seen first,she wants her full fifteen minutes everytime she walks in,but she does trust me with all the suggestions people seem to give her -she gets a second opinion from me on all her doubts and it doesn't have to be medical.
These are two un-educated village ladies but ladies with great personalities,even when I close my eyes,I can see their faces clearly before my mind's eye-almost every line...,every wrinkle.........