‘In those days, the only laxative we had was castor oil, which made me want to throw up. There was nothing but quinine pills for the treatment of malaria. As a child, I could not swallow pills whole. Once, before a visit to Dhaka, I was obliged to chew some quinine pills. Even after all these years, I can feel its horrible bitter taste lingering in my mouth. The arrival of capsules in our lives has made us forget how awful the taste of medicines can be.’
Awful medicines have made us dependent on them, weakening our inner strength and making us dull. We choose this and that medicine instead of trying to improve our unhealthy routine. Look at the table beside your bed, the refrigerator and the cupboard and think about it.
‘There was something else to help me pass the time. It was an amazing contraption called a stereoscope. Many families possessed one in those days but now this Victorian invention cannot be seen anywhere.’
The stereoscope looks amazing.
‘My mother and I had gone to attend Poush Mela, a festival held annually in Shantiniketan every December. I had bought a new autograph book, with a view to having its first page signed by Tagore. I went to Uttarayan one morning. Tagore took my autograph book, but said, ‘Leave it with me. You can collect it tomorrow.
We returned the next day. He was sitting at his desk, which was piled high with letters, various pieces of paper, books and notebooks. He began looking for my little purple autograph book as soon as he saw me. It took him nearly three minutes to find it. Then he handed it to me, looked at my mother and said, ‘He will understand the meaning of these words only when he’s older.’ What he had written was a short poem, which is known to most people today:
It took me many days, it took me many miles;
I spent a great fortune, I travelled far and wide,
To look at all the mountains,
And all the oceans, too.
Yet, I did not see, two steps away from home,
Lying on a single stalk of rice:
A single drop of dew.’
(Excerpts from Satyajit Ray, Childhood Days – A Memoir)