“But it can,” I insisted. “The battery may have run out. The mercury might be misbehaving.”
“No such luck. It is a brand new thermometer. Plus, I don’t even need one—your forehead is hot enough to make luchis on.”
It was a beautiful day outside. February in Delhi is a wonderful time. The bite of winter is gone, and the sun is golden and inviting. It was the ideal weather to go up to the roof, bite into peanuts, play with my ping-pong ball, and race with the kittens. Instead, here I was in bed, wrapped in rugs, facing the prospect of a perfectly glorious day sacrificed to fever.
My little family was busy. Granny prepared her quintessential chicken—to be made lighter with extra pepper and healthy spices to beat the fever. Grandpa gave me a shoulder massage, convinced that my fretful, feverish night had given me a headache. Dad called every so often from work, enquiring about his princess. As for Mom, she didn’t settle down for a second. She did my hair so I wouldn’t feel bedraggled on account of frizzy, sweaty hair. She brought me snacks and ordered new books from the neighbourhood bookstore. She switched off the television and other noisy gadgets, so nothing jarred my aching head.
By the evening, the thermometer showed a reading of 99 degrees. The family rejoiced. Made me hot, fragrant soup. Helped me change into fresh clothes. Assured me that I would now sleep much better. Brought me my pet rabbit and monkey who had been looking woebegone the entire day but were now back to their idiotically grinning selves.
“You look SO much better!” They exclaimed happily as I petted my plush animals and accepted spoonfuls of soup.
“Yes,” I agreed. “The thermometer never lies.”
This morning, many years after that feverish February day, I woke up feeling under the weather. I wished someone would give me a back-rub, bring me breakfast in bed, and know exactly what would lift my spirits. I missed my plush toys, now living in a big trunk in a storeroom back in Delhi. I could almost smell the chicken soup and stew, and wished the winds were sturdy enough to balance a plateful and bring it to me.
But I am now an adult. Adults look after themselves. They measure their temperature using a thermometer without assistance. If it shows a fever, they lie to everyone and go about their day as usual. In adulthood, lying is no longer considered a boo-boo.
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I am taking up the April #AtoZChallenge 2019 and will post every day of the month, except Sundays. I look forward to your company!
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