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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Rx : Eat Healthy and develop Immunity

This is my entry for the Indi-Happy Hours' A healthy child makes for a happy home' campaign. Below is a link to Dabur Chyawanprash site.

My mother was a great raconteur , with an enviable ability to keep her audience engaged with her stories. Most , may be all, of these stories were culled from real life and would have real people as their protagonists and antagonists. We, her daughters, following the time honoured tradition of children never fully appreciating a parent , would often wander off in the middle of some story/anecdote but never my mother’s grandchildren. They would climb onto her bed ( the stories invariably came at night, post dinner)and wait expectantly for the ‘treat’. Nani never disappointed the children and they in turn rewarded her amply – the reward being the enchanted look on their faces and the rapt attention with which they heard her out. She was their Gabriel Garcia Marquez-spinner of magical realism.

It was the summer of the year 2004. I was at my parents place with my  6 year old son , a fussy eater. The fuss invariably was about eating the greens, pulses, fruits etc. The first two days mum watched in silence my attempts to feed, and sometimes force feed, the boy. Then, post dinner on the second day, she started on her story. I was reading a book while she was telling the story to the kids, but something in the story made me forget all about the book.

Mum’s story:

Once upon a time ( yes, the first line would always be Once upon….) a girl was born in the house of Papa B and Mummy P.  Papa B and mum P were very happy that God had blessed them for the fourth time with a child and showered the girl with their love and care. Papa B was very particular about his children’s diet and would ensure that they were fed healthy and fresh food. The elder three took uncomplainingly to drinking milk twice a day, eating three portions of fruits and five portions of vegetables daily. The trio thrived on this healthy diet and  gained height and color.  However, the fourth child, let’s call her Shambhavi, liked to eat only fried snacks, cakes, cookies ,pizzas and burgers. She created a fuss daily about drinking milk and many a time would slip out to the front garden and pour the milk down some flowering plant.

And then one day Shambhavi fell sick. She came back from school with high fever and collapsed on the bed in her room. The family doctor was urgently summoned. He examined the six year old and then came out with a very grim face.  His verdict was that Shambhavi had a very bad case of Typhoid. The little girl had come down with the disease because of her unhealthy eating habits. These in turn had weakened her immune system and so she had taken unwell.

Typhoid now is not a life threatening disease but in those days, about forty years back, it was not to be taken lightly. Shambhavi was in bed for almost two months. Those two months were the most difficult period for Papa B and mummy P. About twenty days after falling sick there was a day when the family doctor feared the worst for her. Shambhavi’s father rushed back from office while mum P wept silently into the pallu of her saree. Thankfully the child survived but another fortnight passed before the doctor could say, with a sigh of relief,  that the worst was over.

The aftermaths of the illness were: Shambhavi  lost almost all her hair ( the hair took almost 6 months to grow back). She missed out on one full school term. Her parents lost weight and looked haggard and drawn. They were now over protective about the child and ensured that she ate well and ate healthy. Shambhavi also co operated because she had understood the perils of unhealthy eating. Soon she became a healthy and robust child . Her parents were relieved and happy at this change . Happiness and normalcy returned to the house.

Here my mother stopped and kissed my son. “ So,  do you think it is better to eat healthy food and not fall sick or eat unhealthy and fall sick like Shambhavi”, she asked my son.
“ Nanu, I will eat only healthy food from now on,” was the boy’s reply. I looked at mom questioningly. “ Shambhavi”? 

Mum looked at me and nodded. “ Yes, you”.