As you are a doctor

Travelling in India, Dalrymple falls ill — enlarged liver, swollen ankles, unnatural lethargy. He is referred to a pathologist who

carried on her practice surrounded by domestic concerns, in the midst of children, mynah birds in cages, servants requesting instructions for luncheon, visiting friends, holy men, carpet salesmen.

The doctor is about to take Dalrymple’s blood

by means of a needle that was blunt from use and none too clean

when Dalrymple mentions that he too is a doctor.

Reluctantly she removed the dirty needle from the syringe and searched in her drawer, amongst the ink-pads, forms, old pens and rubber stamps, for a new, disposable needle.

As you are a doctor,’ she said, with the air of conferring an inestimable benefit.

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