Twenty four hours after it first appeared, the symptoms of my shivering, shaking, homesick-causing fever had begun to significantly subside. But on the advice of friends and family, as well as my own intuition, I went to the doctor anyway.
In the small waiting room, he had inspiring quotes and paintings on the walls. A quote by Wordsworth read: “Child is the father of man.” I looked at that for a long time, as well as the painting of the saintly physician with his hand resting reassuringly on the shoulder of a young boy who appeared to be sick and suffering.
On the bench opposite me, a woman bounced a crying baby on her knee. The child was adorned with gold bracelets on his wrists, and had black kohl painted around his eyes. He looked like a mini deity, and I was almost freaked out looking into his eyes, lined in black, as they were. He seemed from another world. But as the doctor flashed the light in his eyes, and asked his mother questions in Hindi, he began sobbing in a more and more traumatized way, and I saw again that he was only a child, not a god.
Then the doctor saw me. His English was deeply accented, but his vocabulary was good. He seemed well-studied and intelligent. I trusted him. He pushed and prodded, listened to my heartbeat, and suddenly asked: “How many times you shit today?”
I looked up, surprised. I was sure I had heard him wrong. “I’m sorry?” I said.
“Shit,” he said again. “How many times you shit?’