Thursday, December 14, 2006

The medicine cabinet.

In the third floor flat at 233 Khetwadi Main Road in the room behind the sitting room or ‘hall’ as we used to call it was the room separated from the former by a wood and glass partition. It served as the puja-dining-store space. On its eastern wall was our medicine cabinet, a miniscule walnut veneered wooden cupboard maybe 2 feet by 1 foot and 6 inches deep. All the Mankar family’s first-aid needs were stored there. Minor cuts, wounds and scrapes were treated with either tincture of iodine or benzine – both of which burned like hell and brought tears to the eyes – or else with Mercuryochrome – which didn’t. There was cotton wool to swab the wounds, boric powder and potassium permanganate to disinfect them and rolls of gauze dressing and a Johnson sticky tape roll in a blue tin case. I had my generous share of falls and scrapes on the knee and was a real cry baby at the time of dressing the wounds and all through the healing process. Glycerine acid tannic was the throat ‘paint’ of choice for treating my frequently recurring tonsils infection. I remember being offered the bribe of ice cream in order to undergo a tonsillectomy. Being the coward in constant dread of physical pain that I have always been, I somehow always managed to dodge the Damocles’ sword and eventually managed, as I grew up, to outgrow the menace. Towards the end of my childhood, when I was fifteen and poised to appear for my Secondary School Certificate exam in maybe a couple of months, I managed to burn the ring finger on my right hand on a Sunday afternoon while thoughtlessly doing a lab experiment in the south-western part of our terrace. My father and his friends were busy with their weekly session of bezique and they all rushed to my rescue with Burnol and sympathy. The same evening, I went with my sister to the Imperial Talkies on Lamington Road within easy waling distance from home to watch the hit musical, Albela. It was made by Bhagwan, a successful stunt movie star turned comedian, and Geeta Bali who was a big star already and a good sport apparently for having condescended to act with someone far below her own class. Coming back to my medical ordeals, the second major catastrophe was again just before my Bachelor of Commerce exam. This was when an inverted abscess on my butt had to be surgically removed in Dr Hiralal’s surgical clinic. It was situated on Queen’s Road halfway between the Royal Opera House and Charni Road Station. A few days later while I was recuperating and studying for my exam, my right hand index finger got infected and had to be operated on. This resulted in my ending up with a foreshortened index digit with a rather pointy round nail.

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