She came to my clinic with her mother and a younger brother aged four. She was looking of age five or a six utmost. When i was checking her brother, who was having mild respiratory infection, she stood next to her mother observing curiously. She too looked seek, coughing sometimes. I gave instruction to my compounder for medicine to be given. She went to the dispensing window with her mother and was watching with a same curiosity how compounder is packing the medicine for them. She was pretty little girl with silky long hair, round face, thin,fair looking but malnourished if you want my opinion. Her mother gave money for my usual fees to the compounder, from her old wallet, almost emptying every coin from it. My fees for one day medicine cost less then one pound loaf of a bread, as i am a General Medical Practitioner and running a clinic in poor class area, no matter it is the 5Th largest city of India.But every metropolitan has a area like this, and every area of that kind has a doctor like me who are willingly practice there.
I could see that the girl was asking for some thing to her mother, pulling her Saree, and she was denying constantly. I concentrate my attention to hear their conversation.
'I also want medicine for my cold, mom', girl said.
' You don't need it dear, you just have 'mild cold,' replied her mother.
' But brother also have that 'just mild cold' and you brought him medicine'.
'He is a very small boy, why don't you understand it?'
'I am also a small girl, isn't it?'
'He is a boy, 'brother' you know, you will be all right with the herbs i will give you at home'.
I could see the question in girls eyes and at the same time sense the confusion in her little mind. She couldn't understand the relevant logic behind 'not getting medicine only because she was a girl'. I knew that the basic problem was money, that her mother didn't have any after paying for his son's medicine. But what made me sick was her choice. Only because her son was a boy or a brother or a male, or a would be runner of heritage of a family, deserves every thing, and that girl was nothing in comparison to him, or less valued or 'counting last' material.
I told my compounder to give her a bottle of 'physician sample cough syrup' which she gladly hold in her hands, and went home with sparkles in her eyes. We had 'Indira Gandhi, as a prime minister 'kalpana chawla' as a space scientist. We are having sunita Williams, p. t. usha, sania mirza, aiswarya ray,arundhati roy among us, but still we are laking some thing. This small episode is not about a financial poverty but it shows the poverty of mind and mindset.Until and unless we overcome this 'mindset' we will not achieve the 'freedom for women' or rather for any individual at all, i would say.