By Yoginder Sikand
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have loving parents. Some children’s parents may not give them the care, attention and warmth that they deserve. Parents may provide their children with every conceivable material comfort, but that doesn’t count for much if they don’t give them the love that they should.
Trinka was the youngest child in her family. She was frail and weak, and every now and then she had to be taken to the hospital. Sometimes, it was for a headache that lasted several days. At other times it was for a running tummy, a pain in her joints, high fever, a severe cold or a burning rash. The poor girl seemed to spend almost as much time in the hospital as she did at school.
One day, Trinka was rushed to the hospital because she just couldn’t seem to stop coughing. Doctor Joll spotted the little girl patiently waiting in the queue for her turn to be seen by him. ‘Good morning, Mr. Sim,’ he said to Trinka’s father, who had accompanied her. ‘I need to have a word with you. Can you please step into my chamber right away?’
Mr. Sim followed the doctor inside, wondering what the matter was. ‘Please sit down,’ said Dr. Joll. ‘Your daughter’s been taken ill again, I see.’
‘Yes,’ said Mr. Sim with an irritated sigh. ‘That’s nothing new, though, as you know. This time it’s a nasty cough that she’s got. That girl is such an awful problem, I tell you. I and my wife are tired of her constantly falling ill and of having to rush her to the hospital almost every fortnight.’
‘Well, Mr. Sim,’ interrupted Dr. Joll. ‘I have to tell you that there’s nothing at all wrong with Trinka. As far as I can see, the problem’s with you and your wife, rather than with the poor little girl.’
‘What? With me and Mrs. Sim?’ cried Mr. Sim in surprise. ‘There’s nothing wrong with us at all. We are perfectly respectable people. And we do provide Trinka with whatever a young girl needs”nutritious food, clothes and a good education in a rather expensive school.’
‘No, Mr. Sim,’ said Dr. Joll. ‘I’ve known your family for years now, and I have to say that almost all of Trinka’s health problems are because she doesn’t get the love and attention she deserves from her parents. There’s no fun and cheer in your home, I know very well, no warmth and laughter. And so, it’s no wonder at all that Trinka is as sad and weak as she is. Laughter, they say, is the best medicine, and because Trinka gets none of that at home, what with you always scolding her and you and your wife constantly squabbling with each other, it isn’t at all surprising that the girl keeps such poor health. It’s really all your fault, and your wife’s too. I’m sorry to say this, but you two are really the main cause of all the trouble that Trinka has to go through with her ill-health.’
‘Oh! I never thought of it in that way,’ said Mr. Sim shamefacedly after thinking for a while. ‘It is true that we aren’t a very happy family. And you are right that Trinka doesn’t get the love, warmth and attention she deserves from me and Mrs. Sim.’
Mr. Joll reached into a cupboard and pulled out a booklet, which he handed to Mr. Sim. ‘Farewell To Pills: Cure Your Child’s Illness Through Love and Laughter’ it was titled.
‘Here, read this, share it with your wife and do as it says,’ said Dr. Joll, ‘and Trinka’ll soon be so hale and hearty that won’t ever need to bring her to hospital again.’
The booklet was meant for parents of kids who often fell ill”mainly because they didn’t get the love, attention, laughter, approval and warmth that kids need to grow up healthy in both mind and body.
Mr. and Mrs. Sim went through the booklet”not just once but almost a dozen times, till they knew exactly where they had gone wrong in dealing with Trinka and about what to do to set things right.
You should have seen the magical effect the booklet had on the Sim family in just a few days. The Sim home now bubbled with fun and laughter. Mr. and Mrs. Sim spent long hours with Trinka”not scowling at or scolding her, as before, but, rather, playing games with her, cracking jokes, reading story books to her and strolling with her in the park. And in just a short while, Trinka was fit and fine. She didn’t ever fall sick again and so didn’t have to visit the hospital for treatment anymore, although she and her parents would sometimes drop in at Dr. Joll’s chamber to meet the man who had helped bring about such a wonderful change in their lives.