Koun hai fajriyon men? Who has sneaked into the mango grove?
In the good olden days when most of rich Syeds of Amroha were in possession of mango orchards and plenty of agricultural lands, it was a popular warning shout that used to break the silence of night in the woods, ‘Fajri’ is name of a popular mango species of those days. Even during the day the caller would use it to alert his neighbors and warn the suspected intruder. Najam Naqvi, the doyen of Indian film Industry who had introduced thespian Raj Kumar and poet H S Bihari to Indian film industry, used this warning shout in his famous super hit ‘Nirdosh’ that was released before the partition of India.
As we know, our town Amroha, is an aristocratic habitat that is still steeped in old traditions and values. It is a place that has preserved the royal dullness and aura of old culture along with the sharpness of creativity. It is a close nit introvert society where all sort of complexes run deep in everyday life. From Maharani Amba Rani the founder Queen of Hastinapur of ancient India to a samosa vendor of today, Amrohvis are touchy and rarely accept a slight in their lives from any quarter.
Our pride is justified if one has a reason; the hubris and arrogance is not: it’s a vice. Unfortunately, Amrohvis are more egotists and careless about rest of the attributes of life. Vanity runs deep in our blood. We are always suffering from psychological and physical maladies as well.
In this new column, I shall try to analyze these maladies with an honest and objective approach. I think it would satisfy the readers about this ribbon “Koun Hai…” that Inshallah you would be reading in my next columns.
Let us begin with the physical maladies that had haunted the people of the town in my childhood.
I can still recall the face of Jamila Didi (name changed) who was once a smart, healthy and chirpy girl. Her family visited us almost six decades ago. And the next time I saw her being carried in a coffin towards the graveyard. Shahid Bhai (name changed) was a strong, good looking shop keeper in our neighborhood who would keep his shop running from dawn to dusk. I was the witness of his last journey also. I was a child then but can still remember the trauma, the discussion about their vomits of blood, their perennial coughing, visits of doctors, depleting money support and family agonies. Like many more in those days, they both suffered TB in different houses and in different situations.
It is sad but true that Tuberculosis (TB) and TL (True Love) have always had some deep, undefined, unfathomable and divine relationship since time immemorial.
At her 21st birthday in 1938, our beloved Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi suffered an attack of ‘pleurisy.’ There was no medicine available for the disease. She was put in a sanatorium in French Swiss Alps, Switzerland. A couple of years earlier, her mother Kamala Nehru had died in another Swiss TB sanatorium. Very few people of that period know that during the crucial final stages of negotiations of creation of Pakistan, the Father of Nation of Pakistan was silently entering the advanced stages of TB. Dr. Patel from Bombay who treated him was under oath not to reveal anything to anyone lest it changed the destiny of imminent Pakistan.
The well known great statesman of 20th century, Nelson Mandela had fought successfully against this illness.
John Keats, the famous doctor turned poet, saw the crimson color on his handkerchief. He wrote spontaneously, “I know the color of that blood. It’s arterial blood…. That blood is my death warrant, I must die”. His mother and younger brother had also died earlier of TB.
The story of popular film ‘Devdas’ played by Dilip Kumar and Suchitra Sen was based on this disease. When the society refused the hand of ‘Chandrmukhi’ to ‘Devdas’, he refused to take it lying down. He took up a train to unknown destination; to nowhere. During the journey, he vomited blood into the wash-basin of the railway compartment. He finally ended gracefully on a ‘Chabootra’ in front of the grandiose gate of her much-married beloved. The saga is still heartrending and painful to watch.
In my childhood, TB had no cure. The patients used to die slow, painful, messy, dirty and agonizing death. The most pathetic site was a house with a TB patient. No one wanted to go there and stay near or take interest in how the victim or his / her family felt. The patients in their 20’s, from affluent families, were looked up, from distance, with love, sympathy, awe and respect. Most of them had a flop love story behind them. However, for poor families, no such consolation was available. Hardly anyone visited them and bearing their own cross their families used to ground their protracted burden with a strange relief.
Leaving aside the emotional implications, let us talk about the practical realities which were true then and are still relevant today. Unhygienic conditions, poverty, malnutrition and smoking were the main factors responsible for the spread of TB then as they are today. The saving grace is that mankind has now discovered the treatment of this social and clinical deadliest disease. The basic requirement is in-time detection, diagnosis and proper treatment. Being an infectious disease, it is transmitted through air. When a TB patient sneezes or coughs, the bacteria are dissipated in the atmosphere. Touching or coming in physical contact of body fluids could also transmit this deadly disease. It attacks the lungs primarily and creates cavities there.
But now, thanks to efforts of Scientists and Researchers and blessing of Almighty Allah, it is easily tamed and the patient is fully cured if the proper discipline described above is followed. However, in the absence of proper care and prescription, TB becomes resistant to drugs. The new strong bacteria takes hold and it is knows as Multi Drug Resistant MRD – TB. According to a WHO report, 2.1 % of the cases in India are MRD – TB.
More deadly and hard-to-cure other bacteria are now raising their heads in the system of human beings. It is known as Extensive Drug Resistant XDR-TB. They are the result of mismanagement of treatment. In these cases, patient stops to respond to any regular treatment and the drugs which are very expensive and toxic are prescribed. It takes years to recover.
In India, like many developing countries, the lethal combination of HIV virus and TB has turned the situation worse. Only 32 % of TB patients know their HIV STATUS. According to WHO, one third of the HIV patients are infected with TB.
The best preventive ammunition available with mankind is: “Proper hygiene and sanitation, timely approach to a doctor if the cough persists for more than a week.”
With the worse hygienic conditions prevailing in Amroha, how prepared are we to prevent the impact of this calamity?