Dr. Maguire is a doctor who runs the Brigham and Women’s Travel Clinic, ironically in the older part of the hospital, the part where I was born. I enjoy seeing him because I only see him when I am going overseas, usually to Africa, this time to Southeast Asia.

We pull the countries up and see what each one requires, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and then, of course, Myanmar. Dark red is malaria risk and while the other countries have plenty of pink, Myanmar is essentially dark red top to bottom.

“Hmm,” he studies, “how long are you there?”

“A month.”


I tell him the story of why I am going and in that instant, the story is far more real. A doctor who specializes in disease, the son of a man who died from disease we presume, going back to where he died.

I leave an hour later, I took all the extra shots I could and with a prescription for six weeks of malaria prevention. These are the moments why I am doing this, did my father get his shots? Did he take anti-malaria pills? Had he had malaria in Burma in the 1950s, quite possible I suppose?

In this moment, in the building I was born, the footsteps are getting louder.

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