We had some bad bouts of sickness. At one stage we all got sick at the same time. We had stomach cramps, dysentery, headaches, fever and no energy. We went from thinking we were going to die to verging on wanting to. The girls lost all the weight they had so nicely gained. They got really thin. There was always someone on the toilet. The girls started with a casual, “Mummy, I’m finished” and built up to “Mummmmmeeeeeee! I’m fiiiiiiiinnnnnnnisssshhhed!” which went on many times before they got some help.
It was never fun doing stool tests. Trying to catch runny poos in a small container was a challenge. Trying to catch my own was impossible. We learnt in time, how to diagnose ourselves and it helped that every person in Mussoorie was a doctor. We didn’t need prescriptions because we could buy any medication across the counter. It was all so convenient. When we found blood in our stools, we knew it was serious.
The stool samples were taken to Dr Goldsmith’s Clinic. It was a small nursing home in the bazaar near Picture Palace. Franky was the pathologist and we always felt sorry for him. We couldn’t imagine anything worse than opening those little bottles.
It was also where we took the girls for their inoculations and blood tests. There was no messing around. Once, we were standing outside the little blood testing room. Someone was behind a curtain. A hand came out and took hold of Asha’s hand. It was pulled into the curtain and her finger was pricked. There was no explanation or any face to put to the pain. Her eyes went as big as saucers and she burst into tears. Quite a shock for a four year old.
We made friends with Franky and his wife. He was a well-educated man and they had a lovely little son. In his single days, Franky was on a bus which went off the edge of the mountain. Everyone was killed, except him. He was the only one to walk away without a scratch. Right then he knew he was a walking miracle. For some reason though, alcohol became part of his life and he became a heavy binge drinker. He would go missing for weeks. No one had any idea where he was. His wife was frantic and his job was on the line. Weeks later he would be found sleeping in a railway station somewhere. He had no idea how he got there. His wife would pick him up and he promised it would never happen again. It always did. Nothing we said or did seemed to make any difference. It was always one of our sad stories.
We really couldn’t afford to be sick. There were so many people coming and going. Charles Gordon and Eldred came during a sicky time. Charles was quite a fussy eater and it was quite a thing to find un-spicy food for him to eat. Eldred was easy. Tony drove them into the bazaar and found a hotel called, “Holiday Inn.” Charles was so excited. They climbed lots of stairs to get to it. Tony asked the receptionist if it was a real Holiday Inn. “You know, the ones that are all over the world? The chain? The famous ones?” With a big smile on his face, the receptionist said, “Oh no sir, it is just by name.” Looking closer they could tell the logo was slightly different. Charles agreed to Chinese food, which was a bad idea. He sweated and coughed his way through his spicy meal. The poor guy was not happy. They should have eaten at the Holiday In.
We were feeling so happy about all that was happening but were brought down to earth when Eldred said, “There is a long road ahead.” We knew it was true. We could see it, but we just wanted to relax and recover. We wanted to back off for a while, but that wasn’t to be. It’s hard not to be addicted to the battle. As soon as we could stay off the toilet, we were at it again; full steam ahead.