Another story from the past.
He always came accompanied by another young man. This young man first came into the clinic, confirmed that I am available and after that both of them would come in. He would then dismiss the youngster and would ask him to wait outside. He was well past 60 and was of reasonable health except for age onset blood pressure, he had no major illness. Though there was no real need for him to come every month and despite my advice that he needs to come only once in three months, he visited me every month.
His dress was always the same. He had a white trousers and shirt on, over which he wore a dark coat. All these were long past their prime. By the mannerisms and looks I took him to be a retired rather impoverished school teacher. I treated school teachers at concessional rates and this man too was treated that way though often he tried to pay my normal fee which I politely declined. I took it for granted that the yougman was the son and came with his father as kind of physical and moral support. Though the sequence of events as described above was unusual in a father and son relationship.
The consultation was brief and to the point. He wasted no time in gossip, would attempt to pay my regular fee and on my refusal would thank me with a smile and take his leave.
One day in the office I found him talking to a group of persons outside and these appeared important by the mannerism and the way they had dressed. They apparently had come in search of him and having found him were discussing some matter of importance. After a while he came in leaving his son outside. After the consultation was over I couldn’t help asking him about the crowd waiting outside. He said they were traders from Coimbatore who had come in search of him. I was intrigued, what this retired schoolmaster has to do with traders from Coimbatore? I asked him. He guffawed and said,’ I grow potatoes and vegetables in my farm and they come to buy from me’. I sat there looking at this poor man, who with his extended family was one of the largest producers of potatoes and vegetables in his family’s 100 acre farm!
The youngster who chaperoned him was his driver and man friday!
Looks can be so deceptive!
The old man is no more but the members of the extended family comtinue to be my patients.