In Summary
  • One thing I clearly remember is her easy version of human anatomy which conflicted with Gray and Cunnigham, two great anatomists of their time.
  • It was manifested in her advice to me after I had ingested a glass of milk after dinner at her insistence. “Now stand up and walk so the milk can flow down your legs and make them stronger.” She said.
  • She obviously thought that there were hollow passages from the stomach to the limbs!

I don’t remember much of my early childhood in Bantwa, but one place I do remember is the nursery I attended before I joined the madrassah for my primary and secondary education.

The nursery was located in the mosque where I was taught to read and recite the Holy Koran, elementary numeracy and literacy. The practice of corporal punishment like caning and slapping hard on the face was quite common. One teacher was particularly bad-tempered and positively vicious; as a result, when he called one to mete out punishment, the poor little mite would ‘relieve’ himself before he reached the teacher’s desk!

In the last instalment, I talked about my father, so in this one I intend to concentrate on my mother to restore the balance.

She was the ultimate nurturer

One thing I clearly remember is her easy version of human anatomy which conflicted with Gray and Cunnigham, two great anatomists of their time.

It was manifested in her advice to me after I had ingested a glass of milk after dinner at her insistence. “Now stand up and walk so the milk can flow down your legs and make them stronger.” She said. She obviously thought that there were hollow passages from the stomach to the limbs!

Another incident, I remember when George the Fifth died. After reading the news from ‘Mumbai Samachar’, a daily Gujarati newspaper when my father informed her, she asked. “Who is he?”

Despite my father’s various explanations, he could see that she did not know who he meant. He had a brainwave and brought out a rupee coin out of his Godrej safe with the dead king’s head imprinted on it and showed it to my mum. Her response, “Oh him!” She remarked wryly.

She was the family ‘doctor’

Another episode I remember concerns both my parents and has implications for me as a surgeon, who has operated on many patients under general anaesthesia. During my stay in Mangalore, I developed an abscess on the inner side of my right arm which was throbbing all the time and my parents took me the nearest hospital in Kankanady, a suburb of Mangalore, where our factory and home were located.

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