At ten in the morning, the pounding on our door resounded as if it were the owner himself. Thinking it was either some brash jerk or a family member, I was fuming when I went to open the door. Standing on the other side was a seasoned nurse waiting impatiently.
“It’s for the droplets,” she said, assuming I knew what she was talking about. Dressed in a white uniform, she took a seat, marked our names in a notebook and pulled an unsealed amber bottle from her medical bag. She proceeded to ask my grandmother to open her mouth and lift her tongue so that the nurse could give her the medicine.
These were the homeopathic drops that are being dispensed with the benevolent aim of raising the defenses (of the body) and to prepare people for a subsequent vaccine against the H1N1 virus. I find such actions excellent for maintaining people’s health; I recognize this and applaud it – but here I want to argue another point.
As this authoritarian nurse was going from house to house, making everyone lift their tongue, this suddenly appeared to me as the quintessence of Caribbean socialism, and I didn’t like it.
My grandmother —accustomed to campaigns and community activism— immediately prepared herself for her dose of the consecrated potion. Nonetheless, my pride and irritation didn’t allow me to, despite knowing what would await me.
This ambassador of public health got upset and asked me to explain. To get rid of her and to get out of such an uncomfortable situation, I lied telling her about my phobia of medicine born as a result of my university studies (I’m a pharmacy graduate).
I then suggested that I sign a disclaimer to make it clear I was assuming all responsibility for my refusal. However, my grandmother took the nurse’s side; quarreling with me and making me look like some lunatic.
But things didn’t end there, another activist in the building weighed in on me raising hell. Since we trust her a lot —being our neighbor for years and also having been one of my elementary school teachers— she was close to taking me by the ear and dragging me to the polyclinic where they’re administering the droplets.
I know that the decision to not undergo preventive treatment against the pandemic has social consequences that go beyond me. That’s why if I was to contract it, I would quarantine myself in some remote location and would try to treat myself with some herbal concoction. And even if I would die like a fool, I’d be happy that I died free.