The family engine

I had been suffering from joint pain for some weeks. The husband obligingly had bought me an array of medicines. Medication, house-work and a demanding nine hour career were going hand in hand. Asking for leave from office was equivalent to an offence, as I had an image of a Goddess with four hands! Apart from lip sympathy no help was forthcoming from family, who depended heavily on me for everything.

In spite of my wobbly state, the family expected clockwork precision in cooking and housework, result of my having pampered them all the years along. To do them justice, at times they did venture to help, but busy-bees that they were, their time and scope were severely limited and they soon gave up. As the days passed by my limp was taken for granted. I started being endearingly called Kuntamma by them.

 One fine day dawned, and as I hobbled out of bed thinking of the numerous chores to finish before I rushed off to my workplace sixty-five kilometers away, I heard something unusual near me. Turning around I discovered it was hubby breathing heavily. He soon woke up, with disgust and dejection written all over his face. He had developed a heavy cold, trying to find the cause of which, soon became his immediate hobby.

Was it the ice-cream he had indulged in, or the juice at his brother’s house, or the mouth watering but chilly rasogollas at the office party, he wondered. Always a healthy person the common cold caused him intolerable irritation. Unable to bear his woebegone expression, I soon heated a pan of aqua and made him inhale the steam with a dash of decongestant thrown in.

 I assured him hot soup with loads of pepper to drive away his blues. Then I crushed some pepper in a hand pound and kept it aside. The sanctum sanctorum called for my time and then began the soup preparation. Salt, jaggery, turmeric powder and water went into a vessel. The concoction began to boil. Just then the milkman claimed my time for his payment. The seasoning for the soup was done soon after. I dashed off to work. Towards afternoon hubby called up and thanked me for the pepper soup, declaring that he was already feeling better. I felt grateful to the soup.

 I reached home late evening, and during the second round of cooking, as I reached for the box of spices, my eyes fell on the hand pound. Something bothered me. When I removed its lid the crushed pepper greeted me!

My sense of humour got the better of me. I could not restrain a smile as I realised that my soup sans the pepper had induced the placebo effect on my dear patient. Indeed belief is a strong medicine. Of course I did not bother to enlighten him. Why worry about the small details when the end had been secured? To finish with an old truism, all’s well that ends well!

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