“You know, just as emperor Krishnadevaraya gifted golden mangoes to the priests and Tenali Rama offered branding with hot iron rods on his mother’s death anniversary, we must also offer enemas to guests who arrive for Thatha’s shrardam. Only then will his soul be assuaged,” I said most seriously to my great grandmother. The lady was not amused. She merely said- “My husband was a Gandhian. Like them, may you also know the pleasures of an enema.”
This story predictably generated high decibel belly laughter among my friends. Few smutty jokes made the rounds. One talked about Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel and his portrayal of Gandhi in it as Bhisma obsessed with colon cleansing. Another friend cited Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-candy man and Gandhiji’s views in it on bowel irrigation. Ideas abounded on how to placate the soul of my great grandfather who died wistfully dreaming of a warm enema. All of us laughed more than warranted. Then it happened. My stomach began “gesticulating”. Oh! How to describe it! It was as if my intestines wanted to step out to say hi to my friends and play dumb charades or something. I miraculously reached the bathroom on time.
While I was in there worrying that my intestines were descending so far down that they could say hello to the denizens of hell, I received an sms from my host (wise guy) from the other side of the door, “8 a kilo and shat 4? Bad Math. Worse aftermath.”
As my physical condition left me indisposed to retaliate in full strength, I merely stopped with not flushing his loo.
After that day I religiously began carrying the status message- “Never tease Gandhi” on my messengers to spread the news that one could attract painful stomach ailments if one teased the clean habits of the Father of the nation. But even this did not placate the forefathers for shortly after I developed a mysterious illness, which mysteriously enough had no apparent cure in “English” medicine. I was admitted into an Ayurvedic clinic- not the fancy green and ochre, oil dripping, back water facing thatch roofed kind you see in Kerala tourism brochures- but a real one which Shushruta would have been proud of- the kind which still uses leeches to drain bad blood and sets broken bones without anesthesia.
I was ushered into my room, where two shiny brass telescopes above the bedstead briefly distracted me from my grief.
I put one to my eye and peered out of the window. The telescopes smelt strange.
“Nice showpiece, eh? What happened to the glass lenses in them?” I asked the nurse.
“Who wants to see through them?!! They are the instruments for giving enema,” she giggled. Word spread about my faux pas. I was called Galileo by the doctors.
“How did you contract the illness, Galileo?” The Chief Doctor asked cheerfully.
“I teased Gandhi,” I said smartly and narrated the story of my Thathaji and Gandhiji with full histrionics and laughter.
“Heat the oil a tad more,” shouted the Doctor sternly and exited while the trembling nurses told me that their Chief was a sworn Gandhian!!
Oh! The old men were my nemesis. The next twenty days saw Galileo’s intestines being gargled with warm medicated oil and hot herbal concoctions through the telescopes. The nights in lieu of star gazing were spent tossing in fright after visitations from the two grand souls with toothless smiles. Not a day passed without me remembering the grand old lady who had cursed me to know the pleasures of enema.
A month later, as I left the clinic completely detoxified in mind and body, I swore to myself that a) I would spread the moral of the story - “Never tease Gandhi” far and wide and b) if ever I was to have a dying wish to be fulfilled by my descendents, I would die wishing for a full blown orgy on a barge - Cleopatra style.
"Never tease Gandhi" was published in Loony life column.
Now we come to the grand conclusion of the long, hard, tummy turning treatment. After completing Ama pachanam (the cooking of 'amam' or toxins) through medicine, followed by Sneha Panam (internal oleation of body), Abhyanga and Swedana (massage and sweating) to move toxins of the body into the eliminatory system, we come to that final and crucial part of Panchakarma called Vasti which involves the elimination of the toxins dislodged from various parts of the body and made to accumulate in the eliminatory tract. Vasti involves giving enemas to the patient. Over a period of five days oil and herbal enemas (Sneha Vasti and Kashaya vasti) were administered and the bowels entirely irrigated. I feel extremely light, sprightly and "clean" after the treatment. My health has improved considerably. And I am keeping my fingers crossed for a complete cure. With this the "Purging of Jaya Madhavan" comes to a conclusion and I am going home to recuperate. :)