A Gift for the Doctor

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Cuban doctors. Photo: tvcamaguey.blogspot.com

I went to the shop located on the first floor of the Florida Hotel in Old Havana to buy some cologne for my mother’s doctor. I’d already bought him a couple pairs of socks and she had insisted on cologne.

In the window were several flasks, each with a unique scent. These bottles of cologne are inexpensive compared to others in great demand. Still, I had to comply with my mother’s instructions because there wasn’t any more money.

Due to the importance of what a gift for a doctor represents, I took this task of searching for cologne very seriously. To tell the truth though, it didn’t turn out to be so complicated, not like on other occasions where I’ve had the money but couldn’t find the desired object – “not even in spiritual centers,” as the popular expression goes.

Doctors need this type of attention too because the wages they receive aren’t enough to take care of even their basic personal needs.

Cologne in hand, my mother went to her consultation content. The doctor always attends to her well. He even tells her that she could be his grandmother, which is why my mother has developed such special affection for this young doctor who has won not only her heart but mine too, especially after his numerous displays of concern whenever she has been admitted.

She had to wait in line almost two hours because this doctor has many patients. But my mother doesn’t like to abuse people’s trust, so she calmly waited her turn while reading the last book by Cabrera Infante published by Ediciones Union.

Later that afternoon I asked her what the doctor had told her, and she responded by saying that he had found her “overflowing with good health.”

But when I inquired about the gift she lowered her head.

In very low tone she told me: “After he examined me very politely, he asked me the regular questions and then told me that I was fine. I then handed him the gift, but on his desk, there sat the exact same bottle, a gift from another patient.”