Rinku was really sad that day. Nani, his grand-mother, had not had even a wink of sleep the night before. Normally, she would be up and about at 4 in the morning. After having a bath and saying her prayers, she would sweep the hut and cook rice porridge for Rinku and herself. But that morning, Nani just could not stir out of her bed, no matter how hard she tried.
‘I’m so sorry, son,’ said Nani, her tired eyes filled with tears. ‘I don’t know why, but I can’t seem to be able to get up. Every bone in my body feels as heavy as a brick!’
Nani did not want to alarm Rinku, and so she did not say a word about the terrible pain in her bones. But her face gave it all away. Rinku knew what Nani was going through. He had never seen her in such a state before.
Rinku rushed out of the hut and ran to his neighbour ‘Doctor’ Raja’s house. Like everyone else in the village, ‘Doctor’ Raja had not been to school, and he was not a qualified doctor. But he had some knowledge of medicine, having worked for several years in a chemist’s shop in the nearby town.
In a while, Raja was in Rinku’s hut, massaging Nani’s limbs with hot oil.
‘Rinku, child, your Nani’s not been eating well, it seems. She’s really short on Vitamin-D. She’ll have to start a long course of medication right away,’ Raja said as he took out a pencil from his pocket and began scribbling the names of a list of medicines on a bit of paper. Saying that, he took his leave.
As he gently pressed Nani’s toes, Rinku tried to calculate if he had enough money for the medicines that Raja had suggested. He totted up his savings and discovered that he had eight rupees in all. That sounded like a grand sum! After all, he had never spent more than two rupees at a time in all his life.
‘Eight rupees should be more than enough!’ Rinku thought to himself. The thought gave him some comfort, diverting his mind from Nani’s groans, which were growing increasingly louder.
But later that day, when Rinku got to the chemist shop in the nearby town, he discovered, to his shock, that the eight rupees he had could fetch him just a single tablet for Nani. It was certainly not enough for even a single day’s treatment!
‘A complete course would cost you around a thousand rupees’, said the chemist.
‘Are you sure?’ Rinku asked, hoping that perhaps the chemist had made a mistake.
‘Sorry son, that’s what medicines are priced like these days. Very expensive, I agree. There’s nothing I can do, though. All I can say is that you can come back when you have the money.’
Poor little Rinku! How was Nani going to recover, he wondered as he thought of her all alone in the hut, twisting and turning about in pain. He sat down on the street and began sobbing into his shirt.
Just then, an old man came up to Rinku and sat down beside him. He had spotted him at the chemist’s and had overheard him talking about his grandmother’s condition.
‘Don’t worry, child. There’s a cure for every disease’, he said in a very kind voice. ‘I’m going to tell you about a cure for your Nani for which you won’t have to spend a single rupee! Would you like to hear about it, my dear?’
‘Oh really? I would love to!’ said Rinku, as he lifted his head and wiped his eyes, a hesitant smile breaking across his tear-stained face.
‘Your Nani’s suffering from Vitamin-D deficiency,’ the man explained. ‘That’s not uncommon for elderly people like your Nani who don’t much go out of their homes into the sunlight. All she needs to do is to sit in the sun for a few hours a day. Sunlight is a rich source of Vitamin-D, you see. God gives it to everyone free of cost! You don’t need to spend even a paisa on it! Amazing, isn’t it!’
‘You must be joking!’ exclaimed Rinku, hardly able to believe his ears.
‘Not at all! Do as I say, make your Nani drink in as much sunshine as she can and you’ll see how quickly she’ll recover!’ said the man.
Rinku gave the man a warm hug and jumped to his feet. ‘I don’t know how to thank you, uncle. You have been so kind!’ he said as he ran towards a van heading towards his village.
Rinku did as the old man had suggested, although he was not really sure if it would work. He dragged Nani’s bed into the sun-filled courtyard. Nani initially protested, but you won’t believe how happy she soon was! She loved sitting in the sun all day, watching the birds hopping about, the trees swaying in the breeze, and the clouds forming wonderful shapes. It was such fun! She wondered why she had never thought of being out in the sun like this before!
As Rinku’s grandmother began to drink in ample quantities of pure sunshine, her bones began to heal. And in just a few days, she was back on her feet again!
‘Thank you God, for the sun and the free Vitamin-D!’ said Rinku in his prayers the night when Nani was back to being her chirpy, agile self. ‘And thanks, too, for sending that kind old man to help me!’