a decent human being
My first hospital placement at uni was incredible. One day, I called out a patient with a very Indian name and I was surprised that it was an elderly Caucasian man who greeted me with a British accent so strong it could have rivaled that of the Queen.
He asked me where I was from and I told him Kerala. He told me he was born in Kerala.
Alappuzha to be precise. By this point I was really happy because that’s where my dad’s from. And then without warning, he starts speaking in pacha Malayalam.
It was so surreal. There I was, doing his signal average ECG and we were talking to each other in Malayalam about Kerala and all its wonders.
He turned to me as I bade him goodbye, and asked,
'Did you wonder what a sahib was doing, speaking your mother tongue?’
At first I didn’t really know what to say. Yes, the thought had crossed my mind. But he had known our motherland before me. He had drank karikku vellam before me. He had eaten off a vazha ela before me. He’d ridden in an autorikshaw before me.
And by the look of happiness on his face when he spoke Malayalam, he had loved all of that before me. He’d loved it a lot longer than I have in my twenty years of life.
So I just replied truthfully,
‘No, I was slightly jealous that you can speak our mother tongue better than I can.’