You Were: The Doctor

August 4, 2010

You know that cure for cancer people are always talking about? Well you discovered it. (Or perhaps I should say you borrowed it.) When you’re finished reading this post, I want you to take some time and have a good think. Because there’s always a chance that the formula is still lodged somewhere in your head.

You lived in Mumbai, but your work often took you out into the countryside. You were a doctor—an obstetrician to be exact. You offered your services for free to poor women who needed extra care during their pregnancies. (Yeah, you were a pretty awesome chick.)

One Friday in 1982, you were asked to visit a young woman on a nearby island whose baby had been growing for over ten months yet still stubbornly refused to be born. You took a boat to the island and stayed in the tiny farming community for two whole days as you coaxed the child into the world.

The baby was a healthy girl with the biggest, blackest eyes you’d ever seen, a head full of hair, and a mouth already filled with teeth. Before you could pass the beautiful child to her exhausted mother, two extremely old women snatched the infant from your arms and disappeared out the door. You tried to follow, but you were stopped by the baby’s father who shook his head sternly and told you to wait.

When the two women returned, the baby was as purple as a jambul fruit. You had seen some horrible things in your day, but nothing compared to a infant whose body appeared to be one giant bruise. If the tiny creature hadn’t begun to scream at that very moment, you might have fainted on the spot.

You wanted to wash the baby, but you were restrained. So you demanded that the family tell you what it was that they had rubbed on the infant’s delicate skin. At first they steadfastly refused. It was a village secret, they said. If you hadn’t just saved two people’s lives, they would have sent you packing. But they owed you a good turn, so one of the two elderly women eventually took you outside for a walk.

She guided you to a cave filled with stunning stone sculptures, all dedicated to the god Shiva. It was one of many such caves on the island, but it was one of the few that tourists and visitors were forbidden to enter. The old woman led you deep into the darkness until you came upon a small campfire. Sitting around it were four even older women. One was chopping an unfamiliar herb. One ground seeds with a mortar and pestle. One kept the blaze burning. And the fourth stirred the pot. The liquid inside was a vivid purple.

Your guide pointed to each of the women in turn. “She is 98 years old. Her sister is 102. That one is 100. And the one stirring the pot is 114. I am 89. All women on the island live to be very, very old. We have made it possible for the child you saved to live to be our age.”

Every female child, she explained, was coated with the purple mixture at birth. The recipe had been passed down for centuries. It had been a gift to the women of the island from Shiva himself. Whoever absorbed the potion into her skin would be immune from the most dreaded diseases.

They shared the recipe with you, and even allowed you to take a small sample of the purple potion. They insisted you keep it for your own personal use, but you preferred to share it with the rest of the world instead. If what the women said was true, you had made the greatest discovery of the 20th century.

Unfortunately your boat sank on the trip back to Mumbai.

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