The meeting was an urgent meeting. 1995. Launch of Pulse Polio. Training of Medical Officers. At District HQ. 2.5 hours away. From my Primary Health Centre.

District had sent instruction. Every PHC Medical Officer must attend. MUST. Message sent through the Sub Divisional Medical Officer.

I started at 6:30 AM. On a van rickshaw. To cross a river. Shil-Torsha. By boat. Take another van rickshaw. Board a Bus. Change at Sadar. Take a rickshaw. Reach CMO Office. At 9:30Am. A long and tedious journey.

The PHC was to be managed by the second Medical Officer who would arrive at around 8 AM.

The Medical Officer fell sick. Unknown to me. Could not join duty.

At around 10 AM. A patient came to the PHC. Obstructed Labour. The Nurses did their best. They called ambulance. For referral to the Sub divisional hospital. Her condition was deteriorating.

The patient was taken. By ambulance to the Sub Divisional Hospital. Accompanied by parents. Husband.

Left behind were villagers. Panchayat members. Cadres of political parties at the hospital premises. Who began soft agitation. The crowd swelled.

‘Where is the doctor?’ ‘Truant doctor.’ ‘Most negligent doctor.’ ‘ A lesson must be taught.’ And expletives.

A few of them came to my quarter. And shouted. ’ Let him return. A lesson shall be taught today.’

Ma was alone in the house. Tintin. My son. A few months old.

She came out and asked ‘What is the matter?’ The agitated crowd spoke ill of me. Agitated. My Ma explained. The situation.

One among the crowd said ‘Let him return today. We will show him the fun. Of enjoying in district headquarters.’

My Ma. Went indoor. The crowd. Shouted for some time. And went away.

My Ma. She locked the collapsible gate. And with Tintin in her lap. She went.

First to the BDO office. And told the BDO. Of the incident. The BDO assured her not to worry.

Then she went to the Panchayat Office and spoke to the Panchayat Pradhan. He heard. And assured her.

Then she went to the three elders in the villages. Each house. Lalit Babu. Hari Babu. Das Babu. Explained. They assured her.

Then she came back our quarter late afternoon.

Mousumi and I returned from the District Headquarter at around 6 PM.

There was a small crowd in the Hospital.

The first question they asked ‘We hope you did not have any problem on the way?’

I asked ‘What happened?’ They answered ‘Aunty/ Masima is very angry on us because some people misbehaved.’

Mousumi and I rushed to our quarter.

She was sitting in the verandah. With many village women. They all asked ‘We hope you did not have any problem.’ I said ‘No.’

My Ma simply said ‘Come inside. Both of you. I have not yet eaten.’

Next day. A group of villagers came and apologised. Because they had misbehaved.

And the husband came in the evening. ‘ My second child. A male child.’

My Ma was a very brave lady. She never compromised with wrong. And she had guts. To face odds. Any time. Anywhere.

Tomorrow is her birthday. December 31.

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