Things we take for granted

A patient came to me once, she was referred from another doctor to rule out if she required glasses. She had headaches quite often.

She spoke to me in Kannada, she didn’t look affluent but didn’t look very poor either. She was 28 years old, wore a saree, a few bangles, maybe a ‘mangalsutra’ . She had sturdy footwear too. She came with her brother, or I would rather say, she was brought by her brother.

I turned on the Kannada chart to test her vision, she said she couldn’t read. No problem. I turned on the number chart,  but she said she couldn’t read that either! I was shocked, I also felt so so sad to hear that. She was almost my age, just a few years younger.

I felt frustrated too, I wanted to help her but had no clue how to.

It turned out she never went to school. She lived in a city, free schooling was available near where she lived, but her parents didn’t think it worthwhile to send her. (But her brother did go to school, no questions there). She was made to accompany her mother to the vegetable market daily to sell their produce. “But if you were selling vegetables, you were dealing with money. Then you SHOULD know how to count, or read numbers.” She said they just had to rely on the ‘better’ nature of their customers to give them the correct amount. ( I didn’t ask her how she managed to give the right change).

The brother joins in. “She was married off at a young age”. She doesn’t work now. There was something fishy about the husband, they evaded the question when I asked about him.

There was nothing wrong with her vision or her eyes, that could cause headache. Finally I sent them off with the advice that 28 is not too old an age to learn something new; and made the brother promise that he would help her.

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Alcohol affects Husband

My husband hates alcohol. He despises not just alcoholics, but even people who drink occasionally. He calls them ‘losers’. That includes me too…

He knew I drank long before we married.  We were good friends and we got married two years ago.

Things changed overnight. I was not allowed a drop of alcohol. I hated being controlled, we fought and the fight went on. As you might have guessed, along with alcohol control would come clothes/guy friends controls. Somehow the guy friends, I didn’t mind.  I had expected it, and anyway most guys kept a distance once I got married. The clothes control was expected, still it bugged me. The alcohol control was totally unexpected.

I am from a family where everyone drinks socially. It is an absolutely normal thing to do and we are all pretty decent people even under the influence of alcohol. Husband thinks alcohol brings out the worst in everyone. That alcohol makes people want to jump into bed with the next available person or fall drunk along the roadside.

We moved to Europe for a year. He began relaxing, slowly but visibly. I wore shorts one sunny day and he realized that, nobody was gawking at me. I wore a deep necked top. Nobody was making lewd comments about me. We went to friends’ homes for dinner, drank wine. There was no ruckus and dinner was a pleasant affair. Went back home for a good night’s sleep.

He began slowly accepting that things outside his ultra-conservative thought process can be normal. The freedom and hassle free life of Europe has helped. I have total freedom with clothes. He still doesn’t drink, says he hates alcohol, but doesn’t restrict me in any way. (Don’t know how things will be once we move back to India, fingers crossed.)