The Quick Quack Medical Remedy
Dadiji’s famous ‘gharelu nuske’ should have had the ubiquitous safety pin listed in it. Lost a button? Hem undone? Is there a tear in your dress? Is a teeny-weeny wood sliver stuck IN your thumb? USE a safety pin. No wonder many Indian women just dangle the safety pin on their necklaces. This way it does not do the vanishing act just when it is badly needed!
Ever had a minute wood sliver stuck in your finger and a gleaming safety pin looming under your nose? Quite a terrifying experience! Hard to say which is worse – the sharp painful prick of the sliver or the poke of the sharp, shiny pin. Personally know a few people, old and young, who just faint at the sight of the pin!
One day my little nephew somehow managed to get a small, thin wooden sliver stuck in his thumb. His howls brought the house down. His younger brother only made matters worse by inquiring solicitously “Does it hurt? Is that why you are crying oooh-ooh?” My nephew refused to go to the doctor. So, we ‘modern’ girls fell back on the good old tried method. The sharp gleaming safety pin! Sis-in-law first applied ’til’ oil on his little thumb. “It’s not sterilized!” accused my sliver-injured nephew through his tears. “Mujhe maar daloge!”
“Rubbish!” retorted sis-in-law. “I’ve boiled the pin in hot water for 15 minutes and killed every germ in it.”
“First you will BURN me and then PRICK me!” howled the elder one inconsolably. “If ajji had been here, she would have taken it out immediately!” For my nephew, his grandmother KNEW everything. His aunt and mother were mere nincompoops when compared to his nonpareil granny! “She’s in Hongkong,” said sis-in-law. “So either you let me yank it out or book a berth on the next flight to China town.” “You are making fun of me!” howled my injured nephew.
“Bhaiya ko dukh raha hai,” said my littler nephew accusingly. “You’re making him cry oo-ooh!” “I don’t need advice from you!” retorted his mother angrily. “Do you want me to cry ‘oo-ooh’ too?” Two little boys looked solemnly at her. It was hard to suppress our giggles. Worry was writ on their face. What if their mum and aunt started howling ‘oo-ooh’ too? “Then I will start crying too,” declared the tiny tot. “Ajji would NEVER make fun of me!” howled the wiser elder one.
My sis-in-law gave up. “Then keep that sliver in your thumb.” She then started conversing with me in Marathi. The two puzzled boys could not make out a word of what was being said. The only word they could make out was ‘injection’ which my sis-in-law uttered every now and then, in a very loud voice. “You will HAVE to go to the doctor,” hissed the littlest nephew gleefully. He had had many injections recently poked into him and thought it was high time his brother had a dose of it too!
“I’m going home,” I said. “So if mummy cannot yank that nasty sliver out, go to the doctor in the evening. Otherwise, it will catch pus.” Two little boys bade me farewell tearfully. My sis-in-law was very annoyed. “HOW can you leave me to face the music?” “If only ajji were here!” howled the elder boy. “Good luck!” I said cheerily. “Maybe we should work out how to bring back his ajji!” “GET OUT!” hissed my sis-in-law angrily. “I l have to cook lunch and not excuses about why I cannot bring back his missing ajji!!” Back home, I worried and worried about my obstinate little nephew. I rang my sis-in-law up. “What is he doing?” “Sitting on the sofa and sadly studying his thumb,” said his mother. “Take him to a doctor in the evening.” “Is it aunty?” asked my sliver ‘filled’ nephew. “Tell her bhaiyya has stopped crying oo-ooh!” said his little brother.
“Haan. Both boys near me. So GIVE advice and don’t giggle at my reply,” muttered sis-in-law into the phone. “It will be awful if it catches pus,” I said worriedly. “What did aunty say?” asked my nephew. “She says it would be a pity if THAT thumb has to be CUT OFF!” said my clever sis-in-law ruthlessly.
There was pin drop silence. “Call you back later,” said my sis-in-law cheerfully. “Why should my thumb get cut?” asked my nephew. “Gangrene might set in,” said his mother. “You read about tetanus injections yesterday.” “It’s only a small sliver,” said my nephew. “Then why are you crying oo-oooh?” asked his practical little brother. “Can ajji come?” “No.” “Can papa take it out?” “Only with this!” retorted his mother, showing him the safety pin. She then went off to heat up their lunch. My little nephew sat down thoughtfully on the sofa and surveyed his thumb. “What are you going to do?” asked his worried younger brother. “Ajji can’t come. Aunty has gone home. Papa will also poke you with THAT pin!”
“I’ll take it out myself!” declared his brother determinedly. So he did. With all the oil we had poured on his thumb, the sliver had no alternative but to slide out. “Now you don’t have to cry oo-ooh!” said his little brother happily. “Aunty!” said my nephew, later on the phone. “Now doctor need not CUT OFF my thumb. I took the sliver out by myself!” “VERY GOOD!” I said happily. “Tell mamma to treat you both to a big ice-cream.” “Do you HAVE to say that just before lunch?” snapped my sis-in-law angrily on the phone.
“The dentist will YANK the tooth out!” “Tell aunty we brush our teeth TWICE everyday,” said my little nephew. “Colgate hai tho why worry!” said my sis-in-law sarcastically. When the boys’ ajji came back, she got a big hug from two grandsons. They were very relieved to see her. No longer would they be at the mercy of three quacks – their mamma, papa and a finicky aunt!
Contributed By: HEMA RAO, Bangalore email@example.com
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