Friday, April 11, 2014



(An Apocryphal Story)

This happened around 30 years ago, in the mid 1980’s.

I had newly arrived in station – it was an inter-service training establishment, but run in typical army style.

During my evening walk, I saw a crowd of young student officers and families sitting on the lawns of the house of our unit medical officer.

“So, Doc is having a party, is it?” I shouted to them.

“No. We are waiting to see the doctor for medical treatment,” they said.

I was impressed.

I had thought that our Medical Officer (MO) was a typical “fauji” doctor.

But I was impressed to see that he seemed to be such a good doctor that patients were coming to his house.

And he seemed so sincere that he had started an evening OPD at home for their convenience.

“That’s great. I did not know that our unit MO sees patients at home,” I said.

A student officer looked at me and said: “Sir, we have not come to see the unit MO. He is useless. We have come to see his wife. She is an excellent doctor who works in XXX hospital, the best hospital in town. In the evening, she does her private practice here at her home, and everyone comes to see her – she charges quite a lot, but then she is really good.”

Yes, she was a really good doctor.

Once a young officer got a strange cough – during his morning run, in the expansive picturesque campus, he would suddenly get a spasm of cough, so severe that it was almost like a convulsion.

He would sit down, terminate his run, walk home, and drink water and rest.

For the rest of the day he would be okay.

These fits of cough happened only in the mornings during his runs in the open.

The officer reported to the unit Medical Officer (MO) in the MI Room.

On hearing the symptoms, the MO immediately concluded that it was asthma and referred the officer to the specialist at Military Hospital (MH).

The officer was due for his sea time immediately after the course.

His fellow officers scared the shit out of the officer.

They said that if he went to the specialist for asthma, he would be subjected to all sorts of tests and examinations, and they would surely downgrade his medical category.

Now, if his medical category was downgraded, that would be the end of sea time and his career would be badly affected too.

The officer’s wife advised the officer that before he went to the “fauji” specialist at the Military Hospital, it would be better if they took a “second opinion” from the doctor’s wife (the lady doctor who practiced at home).

In the evening, the worried officer went to the doctor’s wife.

The lady doctor heard him out, and said: “Don’t worry – it is a seasonal allergy due to pollen from the ‘congress grass’ which is abundant on the campus. This allergy happens to some people in spring. Just stop your morning runs for a month or two. Don’t go out in the open in the mornings. You will be okay. Once it is summer, you can start your morning runs again.”

“Any medicines – any treatment?” the officer asked.

“Nothing,” the lady doctor said, “if you want just add some gavati chaha (lemon grass) to boiling water when you make tea in the morning – it will act as a placebo – there are plenty of gavati chaha bushes growing wild in the campus.”

Within days, the officer’s cough disappeared, and soon, the moment the season changed, he started his morning runs again.

Of course, the officer scrupulously avoided going to the MI Room during the remaining part of his course.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
Vikram Karve has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work. 
© vikram karve., all rights reserved. 

All stories in this blog are a work of fiction. Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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