‘No, it is not he, it is I who wants it’, she said. A statement of bare fact which took my breath away though this was uttered 35 odd years ago when the age of permissiveness had not as yet set in. I thought then [now I know better] that it was the boy who wanted it more than the girl. So I asked this 17 year old that does she know the consequences. She replied,’ yes I know. I have to have it. I think of that day and night and it is interfering with my sleep, my studies and I am snapping at everyone around me, and I don’t want to become pregnant’.
So this teenager has come for advice on contraception and not to listen to stupid moral advice. Like a good lawyer who accepts briefs with the belief that all are innocent till conviction, I too offered her the advice. She went beaming.
Miss K is from a fairly orthodox Iyyer Brahmin family and they were my patients for some years then. A few months later Mr S father of Miss K, came to see me. He was obviously was very worried. Though I could guess the reason for his coming to see me, I kept silent as to the meeting his daughter has had with me. Doc,’ I am very worried about my daughter, she is into bad ways’. I thought the next thing that he will tell is that she has become pregnant. Instead he said she is moving around with a Christian boy.
Patients come to us doctors not necessarily for medical advice. Often we act as counselors to the family. I knew then that Mr S has two worries. One is that his daughter may land in trouble and second is that the boy is a Christian, a major disaster for an orthodox Brahmin [vice versa is also true].’ Is he a bad person,’ I asked him. ‘No doc he is nice and well mannered and we all like him, but she is too young for this sort of thing’. ‘What sort of thing? I asked. He kept quiet. I wanted to reassure him that there is no possibility of her getting pregnant but did not want to let the cat out of bag, so kept quiet. He requested me to talk to his daughter about the danger and after getting an assurance from me, he went his way.
Couple of months ago a middle aged lady traditionally dressed, came to see me. She could make out that I did not recognize her. She said.’ I am K. daughter of Mr S, we used to see you many years ago, remember’. Of course I remembered. Obviously she had not married that Christian boy [I could make out by the typical Hindu style of her bearing]. Still I asked her. She said,’ that useless fellow, he had no guts, I did well to break that relationship’.
I did not ask any further questions about her past. After a momentary pause she said.’ I have a teen aged daughter, who is going around with a boy, and I want you to give them advice as you did for me, it was a great help’. Unlike her father, K had not a bit of worry on her face.
I became a witness to a full circle of similar events.