Last evening I went to this chemist shop in our vicinity only to find that it had been converted into a grocery. In fact this particular shop used to be a grocery previously as well but was later converted into a chemist shop with the same green-grocer who was selling vegetables peddling medicines. It was obvious that the shop had been reconverted into a grocery with the same fellow again back to selling vegetables.
“Why have you changed back to your old trade? Didn’t you find selling medicines a profitable venture?” I asked ‘Daaktarsaab’ as the re-born vegetable vendor used to be called while he was selling medicines.
“Selling vegetables comes nowhere near selling medicines. Medicines are a profitable business…” he said drawing a cold breath.
“Then why this transition?”
He sighed once again, “You see somedays’ back a couple of drug inspectors raided my shop. They were looking for fake medicines…”
“You mean all this time you have been selling fake medicines to us!” I was shocked.
“Well I wasn’t doing that deliberately… It is the companies that have been supplying the medicines…” the vegetable-vendor-turned-chemist-turned-vegetable-vendor said defensively.
“So if you were not involved why did you give up selling medicines?” I wasn’t wholly convinced.
“It is a risky business so I decide to switch back to my original trade. Besides there was some issue with my drug license…” he said.
“You did have a drug license if I remember?” There used to be something to the effect hanging on the wall of his shop.
“Well…yes…no…actually you see the drug license belonged to someone else and I had just…well ‘rented’ it.” He said sheepishly.
“Well it is not the right thing to do but then a lot of chemists do just that, conduct business with somebody else’s license. Must be a rather common practice I suppose.” I said with just a hint of disapproval in my tone. Actually a couple of my close friends are carrying on in a similar way which makes me privy to this practice.
“Yes that’s right. But you see the drug inspectors inspected the license and declared it fake!”
“Yes! I called the guy from whom I had ‘rented’ it and when I confronted him with the inspectors’ claim he admitted that it was indeed a fake license.” He said gnashing his teeth.
“Now that is a mess,” I said and then I recalling that I had myself purchased some medicines from his shop some days back I asked him, “Last Tuesday when I was sick and consulted the doctor who used to practise at your shop and he prescribed some medicines, were those also fake?”
He thought for a while and then pursing his lips and shaking his head said in a regretful voice, “Yes I think so.”
“My God! You…or if, as you say, you are innocent at least the suppliers of those fake medicines should be hanged!” I vented my bile. “It is a wonder though that I was cured by those fake medicines!” I added grudgingly.
A mischievous smile played on his lips and he said, “Maybe then it was a fake illness!”
I blushed. To admit the truth I had just wanted an excuse to put in a ‘medical’ leave for a few days. Observing my discomfiture he laughed and I couldn’t but join him though I did add rather ruefully, “That Doctor of yours didn’t pick it up though.”
He laughed even louder at this. “How could he! You see he was a fake too! While the drug inspectors were examining my stocks he slipped away. I have come to know since that his M.B;B.S. degree was not a result of five years of slogging it out at a medical school but all of five minutes at a computer shop!”
I couldn’t resist letting out a whistle, “Man you must have found yourself in real hot water. I wonder why those inspector chaps didn’t have you arrested.”
“They did threaten me with that but I pleaded with them and fell upon their feet… not that it made them relent. Said that they could not allow anybody to play with peoples’ lives and that it was a matter of principle and all that… It took a neat bundle of cash to make them decide to give me one last chance. 50,000 bucks actually!”
“Corrupt Rascals!” I exploded with rage.
“No! No! It was not that. You see later in the evening the same day I happened to meet this Drug Inspector whom I know since many years. He asked me how my business was doing and I related my woeful tale to him. He expressed surprise at my story and after dialling a few numbers he informed me that no drug inspector had conducted a raid in our area! The Drug Inspectors who had raided my shop were themselves fake!”
We had a hearty laugh at this but I couldn’t resist saying somewhat maliciously, “You were swindled of 50,000 rupees anyway!”
He went into a cycle of uncontrollable laughter so much so that tears sprang from his eyes. Wiping the same he said, “You haven’t heard half of it! When those fake Drug Inspectors agreed to give me ‘another chance’, the negotiations finally stopped at 50,000 rupees. Luckily my brother-in-law had earlier given me a briefcase full of notes to keep in safe custody. I borrowed a bundle of notes from the same because there was no time to go to the bank. Later when he came to my place I told him that I had borrowed fifty thousand out of the money. And tell you what he just laughed! He told me that the notes were a defective lot, printed only on one side and were meant to be destroyed!”
“But how can that be,” I remonstrated, “Such notes never find their way into circulation!”
He rolled with laughter, “You haven’t understood! Those currency notes too were fake!”
(Truth is mostly unpalatable…but truth cannot be ignored! Here we serve the truth, seasoned with salt and pepper and a dash of sauce (iness!). You can record your burps, belches and indigestion, if any, at firstname.lastname@example.org)