Published in The Times of India
- an article by Jug Suraiya
The world is deeply divided. Never mind those who feel that Barack Obama does deserve the Nobel Peace Prize and those who feel he doesn't. Forget
those who are convinced that climate change will destroy us all, and those equally convinced that it's a figment of R K Pachauri's imagination. Ignore those who claim Anil is in the right and those who root for Mukesh. All these are mere ripples on the surface of controversy. The real rift that divides civilisation, the unbridgeable Grand Canyon of all schisms is that which separates those who believe in the curative powers of homeopathy and those who don't.
According to the pro-homeopaths, homeopathy can cure, and indeed has cured, anything and everything from premature baldness to the Big C, from the common cold to the most uncommon of pathologies. Give homeopathy half a chance, say homeopaths, and it'll cure all the world's ills, from AIDS to global recession, from international terror to Raj and Bal Thackerayism. According to the anti-homeopaths, homeopathy is pseudo-medical mumbo-jumbo, pharmacological voodoo involving toxic substances like arnica 30, nux vomica 60, deadly nightshade 100, and tarantulas' testicles ad infinitum. To anti-homeopaths, homeopaths are, at worst, dangerous quacks, and, at best, harmless weirdos who also believe in UFOs, greet each other by secret signs known only to initiates, and dance naked under the full moon.
Neither believers nor disbelievers, Bunny and i are agnostics when it comes to homeopathy. Neither for nor against, we sit on the fence of ambivalence. So when a friend recommended a homeopathic course of treatment for the sciatica that has been plaguing Bunny for the past six months, we decided to go with it. Maybe it won't work. But what the heck. It can't hurt, can it? And who knows? Maybe it will work. Stranger things have been known to happen. As i can testify. Years ago in Calcutta i suffered from what the series of allopathic doctors i consulted called a 'strep throat'. With unfailing regularity my throat would get sore and inflamed and horribly painful, as though i were swallowing broken glass. The inflammation would be accompanied by fever, sometimes as high as 102 degrees. To try and prevent the infection, i'd rub Vicks on my throat and wrap it up tight with a scarf, right through Calcutta's hot and sweaty summer. Didn't help. Month on month, the strep throat would strike, and i'd pop antibiotics by the fistful in vain attempts to combat it.
Finally someone suggested i see a homeopath. I don't believe in homeopathy, i replied. You're not required to, it's not a religion, said the other, and gave me a name and address. So off i went to see my first homeopath, who turned out to be a small, chubby, cheerful chap who looked at me brightly. Sore throat, i croaked, pointing to my wrapped-up neck. The chap shook his head. That's just the symptom, he said. What you're suffering from is something else, he added, and gave me a phialful of small white globules, of which i was to swallow six and not eat or drink anything for half an hour before or after.
I went home, had the globules. And didn't sleep a wink that night, having to rush to the loo half a dozen times. I woke Bunny at 6 in the morning. Ring up that damn fellow and tell him he's killed me, i groaned. Bunny rang him and gave him the dire news. Wonderful! The chap responded. I've purged his body of all the toxins that were poisoning him; tell him he'll never get a bad throat again, he said. And i haven't, not once, in the intervening 20-odd years.
So do Bunny and i believe in homeopathy? We don't know. All we know is that something cured me of a strep throat all the allopaths i went to had given up on. Here's hoping that the same, or a similar, something will work the magic for Bunny's sciatica. For all anyone knows, maybe the homeo path to health is paved with good prescriptions. Fingers crossed. Toes, too.