“As real wage rate rises, leisure becomes relatively more expensive, in terms of income foregone, and this induces the individual to substitute work or income for leisure. This is called substitution effect of the rise in real wage and induces the individual to work more hours i.e. supply more labour to earn more income”. Professor Piyali Chakraborty was taking the Macroeconomics lecture and was explaining the backward bending labour supply curve.
Of all the lectures she had in economics, this lecture was Aarohi’s favourite hour. She always loved the “bigger mechanism” which runs economies. The discussions with her friends regarding the growth of the nation, the employment scenario, the inflation forecast etc were riveting for her. One of the things she failed to understand was why, when experts were running the show, was everything not “right” with the world? Why did governments fail to keep people happy in their nations? And it was perhaps her quest to make things “right” that was the reason for her love of the subject.
But today she wasn’t quite paying attention in class. Her mind was planning out things for the day. One question which was hitting her hard was “How will I manage?” She kept track of time but it seemed that her adrenaline rush had left the time behind in the past and now all she wanted was to jump into the future and hold it. Five minutes were left for the class to get over when she turned to her right and spoke “The doctors have increased my medication. Now I’ll have to take 60 tablets a day”
The boy who always sat to her right was Samrat. Well it was a routine. Whichever of them came early would reserve a seat for the other. No, they had never made a formal promise to reserve seats but this was a part of the many unspoken things that connected them.
Oblivious to the whole medical and medicine business he turned and said in a very simple tone “That’s okay! You’ll manage.”
“It’s simple to say that Samrat-”
“And it’s even simpler to make that statement, Aarohi”. He laughed at his own remark, packed his things and left the class. Sitting on her chair as she watched him moving out of the lecture theatre she questioned herself as to why she had told him. What makes me disclose my mind, my thoughts, and my emotions to him? He anyway can provide no solution to it.
Also she had never discussed her treatment with anybody- so why today? She packed her books and followed him through crowd.
Aarohi had known Samrat since her graduation days. She couldn’t really remember how it had begun but she recalled the many discussions they had had on mathematics, science, microeconomics, monetary policies, philosophy, music, art, literature, poetry, trees, mountains, flowers, colours, food, past, present, future- the list was endless. She knew that this bond was to serve her permanence. Samrat provided her the momentum for her intellect and an inertia for her soul.
After the class they met a few of their friends in the college, said bye to others and left for the metro station. This was again part of their routine together- an unspoken promise. Aarohi always felt that the journey from their college to the metro station was like two parallel road heading together, diverging on a crossroad and then coming together again to meet. Always.
That day was unusual. They did not speak or utter a word for quite a long distance. Samrat always had something to talk about regardless of what the topic or situation was. If nothing else, he would initiate a song and Aarohi had to join him, sometimes correcting his sur and sometimes just to enjoy the moment. After fifteen minutes of walk, Samrat finally broke the silence, asking “So you get your treatment done?”
“What is the medication for?”
“Docs want to try a new drug on me. They say it might be useful to increase the longevity of my life”
“What are you suffering from?”
“It’s called Spinal Muscular Atrophy”. She always said this fancy name with pride, as if it was something she owned. “It’s a recessive disease caused by the absence of SMN1 gene.” She replied gaily. She went on explaining the symptoms of her disease in all the medical jargon, simplifying things for him wherever required. She liked the way she was explaining to him the intricacies of SMA. Her eyes showed her happiness, her awareness of what was happening in her body, in her cells.
Samrat listened to her intently and then after a minute’s pause he said “Then you should have the medicines and listen to what doctors say”
“What for? I have been put on experiments before. They haven’t done much more than causing pain. I don’t want to live long; I just want to enjoy every moment that I have today. What’s the use of adding ten more years of life in future if you can’t enjoy today! Everybody has a natural life and the state of existence. One should just accept it and try to fulfil the purpose of their life subject to the constraints…None of us is immortal and death is inevitable anyway so why crib about it? I want to do something ‘great’ before I die. And for that I don’t want a day more or less in my wealth of days. You see I have no specific reason to take those tablets”. She spoke as if she was trying to provide both of them a logic for Man’s existence
Samrat was looking fixedly at Aarohi understanding what she was saying and also what was left unspoken. After a brief pause he asked, as if trying to recall something, “Have you seen Paa? Do you remember what Amitabh Bachchan was suffering from? He aged quite early””
She burst out laughing. She loved the innocence with which he had said that. “I don’t know what that disease is. But I sure love all the songs of the movie.” And then she started humming ‘mudi mudi’ from the movie and Samrat joined her in the tune. As Tagore said “music fills the infinity between the two souls.”
They had reached the place from where they had to depart for their respective homes. She waved him a goodbye from the other side of the platform and boarded her train.
It was night when she received a mail from Samrat:
On the thought about medicines, I have absolutely no explanation that proves your argument invalid. It is indeed valid. It is efficient, absolutely. But, I don’t know if efficiency is the best possible way to see things. Love and prayer wrap us like a baby in its mother’s womb. They only prepare us for the biggest uncertainty that life is. We all are instead suspended in the matrix of love and prayers only that some of us realize and others remain oblivious. Through this, I want to say that maybe for the sake of these two, you could try to take the medical prescription, for even doctors are doing what their capacities permit. Let their efforts be helpful as long as it does not hurt you. Let them have a share in the blessing that you are. You may not realize what accounting is happening in nature for everybody. Next time when you feel frustrated with your tablets, pray for the goodness of those doctors, pray that they get more love in their lives and so may you. Believe me, prayers can do a lot more than we can estimate. But feel absolutely free to reject this hypothesis for if one lacks belief or doubts the concept, it will surely not work. That’s faith in prayer, in love. It is present while being absent. But once it is internalized, it can never recede. Please feel free to hit me with a stick if all this appears nonsensical.
Aarohi smiled, now knowing she would take the tablets before going to bed.