She came to my clinic with her three children; two of them were ill and she too. While I was preparing medicine for them, three children were making chaos in the clinic. One opened the lower cabinet under the table and pulled out some stationery, second was busy climbing to the grill over the window, third smallest one was shouting something in slum language. I was getting irritated, against my nature of being calm in such situation. But all three of them seemed a real pain in the neck. Mother was feeling embarrassing. She was weak and coughing heavily. I asked her, how she was managing with these kinds of children at home. She didn’t answer and tried to control the trio unsuccessfully. Top of this she didn’t have enough money to pay my fees. I became upset and frustratingly told her, “Do you know what the real problem with you are? You have more than you can handle”, I was stating about her children.
She didn’t answer.
I was about to give her a small lecture on ‘self-induced poverty ‘but hold back myself. She was avoiding an eye contact and looking to the floor.
She paid only half of my fees, and promised another half, next day.
Before leaving, she paused at the door and said, “My husband has a good job, but he left us for no reason. I am living with my old aged parents who work as a housemaid to three places. Three pregnancies were never my choice, but obligatory on me by husband, and now he is not taking care of us. My poor parents are not capable to look after me and my children. Lack of care and education made them such disobedient and mischievous. I am sorry for the troubles they created.” She looked hurt. “I will pay your dues tomorrow,” with these words she left, seizing the hand of her smaller one, who was still hanging on the doorknob.
Only after she left, it became clear to my mind that she was not the main accountable person for her deprived situation. The real culprit was her careless, flee-away husband.
Suddenly I regretted for the comment I have made just few minutes ago, ‘You have more than you can handle.’ But my regret was in no way capable to heal the bitter feeling, I have just contributed to her already wretched life. The regret, which was so weak infertile and meaningless.