She pushed in the needle well aware that a bad stitch would leave the child scarred for life.
“Does that hurt sweetie?” crooned the mother standing behind her. The child lay still before Amrita, eyes brimming with tears. She was not looking at her mother. Her eyes were fixed on Amrita, searching. Amrita knew that glance. Her patients would always look at her at moments such as these and she would placate them. She smiled back looking deep into her eyes while her lips moved in rhythm to the chant she had grown up hearing.
It was there when her Amma dipped the little rice balls in yellow curry and popped them in her waiting mouth, it was there when her mother massaged her curly mass of unmanageable tresses every Sunday with coconut oil to tame them and it was there again when she handed them her medical degree .
It was there when she checked her first patient during her internship. Her seniors would scowl down at her, while her classmates sniggered.
“You are a doctor Amrita. You should be ashamed of yourself mumbling away chants like a rural quack” The senior Pediatric surgeon she was working with had told her.
Despite the taunts and sneer, Amrita was not ashamed. She knew it was the chant of Faith. The Faith that goes beyond the realm of science; that tells us about the power that moves the earth, about the force that keeps us rooted to the ground and creates miracles when medicine fails.
Amrita stood back to look at her handiwork. The stitches were neat and would hardly leave any mark once they heal. She looked at the child and smiled again
“Very soon you’ll be ready to climb trees once again.” she said. The child’s face broke out in a wide grin much to the chagrin of her mother. It was her first smile since she had entered the clinic. Amrita was happy she could manage that. Not the stitches but the smile. The chant was always for the smile and never for the stitches. She was a doctor and knew how to pull out one perfect stitch after another. However, pulling out that smile was difficult. It would come only with trust and she knew that her chants of faith would win her that trust.
“Will she be okay Doctor?Will the stitch heal well” asked the mother wiping her copious tears.
“She will be fine, Don’t you worry.” said Amrita as she tied up the wound and popped a candy into the eager mouth.
“Only for Today! Remember!” She warned the child with a wink.
As the child walked out with her mother, Amrita smiled to herself. The chants of Faith never stopped working its magic.