An Afghan in my clinic

This is a verbatim sketch, of an Afghan patient who visited me around three years ago. We don’t see them anymore due to Covid, and other extraneous circumstances. The write-up distances itself from these, believing that the global community is doing its best. I can vouch for this consult’s authenticity, having done this for fifteen years.

In a doctor patient encounter, one gets a peep into the mind of a “native” Afghan as he lives/lived in a land called “Afghanistan”, variously dubbed as Mujahideen, Taliban, terrorist.

The normal set-up before any medical consultant’s clinic is a desk of the secretary, who makes the list of entries, allotting time for the consult as per og ajar informs the name of the next patient, and then facilitates him inside the chamber.

This time the door is suddenly flung open to the full, till the inner knob crumples the newly painted mark on the wall. Actually, this sort of repair work is done rather frequently, to retain the aesthetics. But the guest need not be prompted on what is his habit!

I guessed it right, the name on the papers is “Gul Mohammad”, a name as common as Rakesh Kumar in India.

My friend is burly, wears a brownish “kameez”, sleeves down, with sleeveless half a waistcoat

The disarming part is the smile on his face!

Needless to say he is accompanied by a translator (tarzuban). The tarzuban mostly Indian, but often an Afghani, on a requisite visa for his services, carries a large bag full of three to four MRI’s, wads of blood reports.

The interview gives a lead as to what be his probable complaint, by holding his head tight, then the neck, and the shoulders. As he holds his head, he bangs his fists in the desk. Possibly, as the facts shall come out, he gets agitated or even temporarily violent. He gazes at me, and I nod in empathy. The next time he holds is head a bit less tight, he lightly taps the desk—does he mean insomnia with milder headaches?

I start my advice, having seen the brain MRI’s (all normal), telling him that he gets stressed due to circumstances, and an inherent aggressive Afghani temperament that spurts transiently. The cause of insomnia is probably the same

As is mandatory in all consults, all that I say is to be explained by the tarzuban right there. Sure there are questions directly to me, that in turn are translated to him. It takes quite a while of to and fro dialogue, but my “Birader” is serious, sincere and honest about his symptoms.

He finally confesses to a national malady—“Meda” which means acidity, abdominal bloating, dyspepsia. Pounds of mutton, variously cooked is the cause. They all know about upper G.I endoscopy, and that needs to be done! Sometimes twice for complete Afghani satisfaction.

Asa well meaning suggestion to the mediators, they may organize large “endoscopy camps”. All will come, irrespective of their tribe or allegiance!

As he gets up and bows gratefully, I know the consult is not over yet. Within half a minute, the door is ajar again, this time searching my desk and his pockets intermittently for some obscure papers he was carrying.

Half an hour later, he comes in with a bag of medicines, They generally buy for six months, much to our pharmacy’s delight. I already have a system of teaming the pharmacist and the tarzuban, my secretary to sort out matters.

The eternal question remains. Will they work. My polite suggestion is, that since he has seven to ten day’s visa, he may try, and let me know two days before he leaves. Necessary alterations can be made then. That somehow is a composite, satisfying answer.

They all watch Indian channels There was a time they were crazy about “Tulsi”. In the actors, they are fond of the khans, but equally appreciative of Akshay Kumar—action plus humour they badly need.

There comes a mention of romance. Admittedly, the ‘purdah’ system is pretty stringent. Any one who takes his spouse out for shopping, movies, restaurants, is acting against the social ‘tehzeeb’ (norms). Women are better indoors than outdoors.

There comes in the :Mashooka  (beloved) System. Most of them have another lady available, whom they can respectfully socialize with. That’s closely guarded secret. No-one shall disclose this secret to anyone, for if the lady comes to know, my ‘birader’ may have to sleep on freezing rock in the night.

One more aspect about their prescription choices. They prefer ‘sharbat’ or syrups, and of course ‘takat’ ka goli, which I need not elaborate!

When the Aryan flight is boarding, ( Afghan National Carrier) there is no system to enter by serial seat numbers announced. They elbow their entry on their own. Only, I suppose the head racks are broken, and instances of luggage falling, which hardly hurts.

So flew home my friend ‘Gul Mohammed’

Six months later I hear a familiar voice on my mobile. There were sure bazooka firing in the background. My friend apologetically informs me he is with his (mashooka). Daktoor, just remind me the name of the ‘takat ka goli’

I laugh and cut-off.

Not all is fair in love during war!



Views expressed above are the author’s own.



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