shorter days

shorter  days

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Note.


During the fall of 1978 I seriously wanted to leave India. I simply wasn’t having a good time. I was miserable. Of course, the fact that I had Malaria may have contributed to my state of mind.

I was stuck up in my cabin on the hillside far from the hermitage. Once or twice each day someone would look in on me and bring some food I wouldn’t eat. Otherwise, I’d be alone with a fever that made me sweat profusely, chills that made me shake uncontrollably, medicine that made me retch, and thoughts that made me want to be anywhere else. I cursed my decision to go to Mumbai. That's where I contracted the disease. I could've kicked myself for living so far up the mountainside. It was too isolated. I couldn’t understand why my teacher hadn’t sent even one lousy little message in the whole two weeks I'd been ill. I really wanted to leave.

Malaria is a rather unpleasant experience. I do not recommend it as part of ones life experience. And the anti-malarial drug, Quinine, might've been worse in those days than the disease itself. It became increasingly difficult to face that bitter crystalline monster of a pill each day. My mood grew darker than the monsoon skies until, on the tenth and last day of my medicine, I’d had enough. Rain poured down onto the slate roof as I reached for the last pill. Nobody else was there. It was just that pill and me staring at each other. My teacher clearly didn't care and no one would ever know whether I ate the thing or not. I tossed it into a glass by my bed and rolled over.

It was a wild night outside and I was perfectly resolute, quite satisfied to avoid the horrible effects of the Quinine no matter what. I couldn’t sleep. I felt pretty bad but, at just about eleven thirty, a lady walked in the front door soaked to the bone. I remarked that she must’ve been mad to trudge all the way up to see me in that storm. She agreed, was clearly not happy. She thrust a note into my sweaty hand and said: "Guru insisted I bring this to you immediately." I was a little surprised. That was the very first acknowledgement that he even knew of my illness. I was positively shocked, however, once I read the note: "Dear Nathan; Take the last pill and you’ll be better by the morning. Love, Guruji."

I reached for the pill, swallowed it with some difficulty and some water, and in the morning I felt much much better.

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