Since I rose in the morning my anus has been itching. Sorry, this is not the way to write something that would tug at the heart of the readers or keep their attention hooked on to your page. Some would consider it beneath their dignity to read an article on such a mundane or earthy subject as anus itching. But what can I do against those itching ? They would come again and again and knowingly or unknowingly in the midst of other activities, sometimes even while I am with others, my fingers would compulsively be led on, around, and sometimes slightly into my anus and I would scratch furiously in a bid to dislodge those worms responsible for the itches. This is a very embarrassing act but who among us can say that he/she has never experienced this sensation, this itching in or around anus? I am leaving aside, for the present, another similar embarrassing act which takes place exactly at or through this organ of our body, i.e. farting. Because many years ago one day I was so exasperated by frequent farting that I went for consultation with a medicine specialist, the most famous in the city, to know its cause and cure. I complained out of frustration, “ Doctor, there is a lot of gas in me, lot of farts, what is happening with me?” He took it very casually and replied, “ How else did you expect a pipe to behave which is open at both of its ends? Of course, air will occupy wherever it finds empty spaces and this air also has got to be expelled. These come out as farts. Nothing is unhealthy about this. You have no problems. You may go now and rest easy.” Since that day I am cured of farts. I mean farts happen but I don’t bother about them. Now it is the time for the wife and children to bother. Nor am I bothered by anyone else’s farts. How else am I to expect an open ended tube to behave ? It is so easy to figure out now. Kaput, gone with the winds, the problem just melted into thin air, leaving no trace behind. Now I can truly say,” Oh, Fart ! Where is thy sting ?”

But itches are different. Some itches maintain a low key, some take a higher pedestal and demand immediate attentions. Some say “Life is full of sufferings.” I say “Life is full of sufferings, aches and itches too.” The largest organ of our body that drapes us from head to toe, our skin, houses so many tiny insects, microorganisms, bacteria and fungi, that a doctor friend of mine says, no man in his senses will ever kiss a woman nor a woman will ever kiss a man on any part of the body if he/she sees that part of the body under a microscope. No fastidiously clean or too fussy a man or woman will allow oneself to engage in sex either. My learned friend, whose learning almost always overwhelms me, also says that almost forty two types of bacteria, fungi and other microorganisms are ‘commensal’ with us. He defines commensal as something that is born with us. That means those microorganisms were there with us while we were born and will be there throughout our lives and will only be burnt out with us at our cremation. In a sense they are our permanent companions. They have to live with or within us, otherwise they die. They have to feed on us. They choose to live at different cites, in different organs of their choices in our body. Some of them also do useful work for us. For instance, those who have chosen to live in our intestines are responsible for the shape, color, consistency and softness of our stool. Some choose to live inside our mouths, some inside noses, some inside eyes, some inside ears, some inside sex organs etc. Leaving aside these, there are hundreds of varieties of microorganisms we ingest into our body through breathing, eating and drinking. So we all are veritable walking and moving zoos with the kinds and varieties of living beings in us as cannot be found in any single zoo. No wonder, it is not a miracle that we die ultimately, it is definitely a miracle that we survive at all. Because most microorganisms come into us to feed on us and while securely lodged in and fed on us, many of them secrete toxic substances or deadly disease causing germs into our bloodstreams. My anus itching is also a result of mischief of some of these tenacious brave souls.

And what haven’t I and my parents done to eradicate them ? When we were children, my parents if they heard that eerie sound, of someone grinding his/her own teeth while asleep, coming from any one of us their children; the momentous fact would be discussed in the morning in front of us one and all and the problem would be diagnosed as anus itching due to infestation of hook worms inside the intestine culminating in the anus. We would all be forcibly administered each with a glass of juice of raw turmeric mixed with juice of pine apple leaves. As the mixture tasted like hell, we were cajoled to drink the potion with promises of the best of health, the best of body, the best good looking chap of the village and above all nights of undisturbed sleep. No wonder, under such enticements each one of us caved in and gulped down the most unpleasant potion. No doubt, the potion must have been causing havoc to those unwelcome guests lodged within us too, for a few nights they used to lie low and mislead our parents into believing that they have abandoned the hosts for good. But unerringly and unmistakably they returned without fail to their dirty, old games some nights later. One night, a fortnight or so afterwards, someone of us would start grind his/her teeth and the return of the horde of hookworms would be confirmed.

I remember, on one such night, my mother led me to one of my younger brothers who was deeply asleep and from whom the sound of grinding of the teeth was coming. Slowly she made him sleep on his stomach and very carefully so as not to wake him up she eased his pant down and extending the torchlight to me to hold, she with the help of her both thumbs very gently prised apart his buttock folds covering the anus and told me to focus the light into it. Sure enough, a bunch of hookworms were undulating to and fro there with their white thread like bodies and some had already come out and were walking all over his buttocks. My mother took out each of them with her bare fingers and put his pants on and went out to throw those and wash her hands off. On the next morning we were all subjected to the turmeric and pineapple leaf juice regime. As I was the eldest, on some nights I took upon myself this duty of inspecting anuses for the confirmation of those offending presences , to give some relief to my mother. So my battle with those worms has a long hoary past.

One day, to give a twist to this battle in our favor, my father brought home some packets whom he called the Rama Ban (the never failing arrow of Lord Rama) against hook worms. He declared with a lot of fanfare that no hookworms would survive this drug, it was a wonder of modern medicine, the doctor himself had strongly recommended that. When he told that that medicine didn’t taste at all unpleasant like our home remedy, we children, all nine of us, felt a lot of relief. He called it Helmacid with Sienna. He invited each one of us to come forward and take each one a packet of those and drink it with water. He also kept a jar of sugar nearby, if anyone found the taste a bit bitter to his taste he was allowed to take it with sugar, he said the doctor had instructed him so. We couldn’t believe our ears. Modern medicines have gone thus far? Killing hookworms with the help of sugar too ? So each one of us readily agreed, who won’t love to get rid of this anus itching and teeth grinding? We all took in a packet of Helmacid with Sienna each. We hoped we were cured of hookworms and this nightly inspections of anuses.
But that was never to be. A few weeks afterwards they again resurfaced and again we were administered with the Helmacid with Sienna. Since then we have taken how many packets of Helmacid with Sienna I have lost count of. We no longer consider it as Rama Ban, certainly the hookworms didn’t care for it. We the nine brothers and sisters gradually grew up and went each his or her separate ways. Since a number of years I haven’t any knowledge of what strategy or therapy each has been following to have his/her anus cleared of those all powerful hook worms. I can now speak for myself only.

I distinctly remember a day in 1985. I was engrossed in a conversation with a woman when I experienced
this anus itching and automatically my left hand became restless to prise out the offending object from the orifice. But the woman had her full attention on me, how could I do this operation without drawing her attention ? She soon noticed my restlessness and asked what was the matter with me. I told her I had just remembered to buy a couple of packets of Helmacid with Sienna. I had never thought that she would be intelligent enough to understand why I had needed those. I had thought those two words would sound like Abracadabra to her. But that woman had the sharpest brain I had ever met. She straightaway asked me, “Do you suffer from hook worms ?”
I timidly replied, “Yes, I am.”
She suggested I take Albendazole, instead. She said that was the latest medicine for hookworms and a whole host of other worms too. Lest I forgot the name, she got me write the name on a piece of paper. Sure enough when I asked for the medicine from a chemist, it was there. Thereafter, for the last twenty five years I have been taking this Albendazole as and when I suffer from anus itching. I also have my water filtered before I drink. Nowadays I drink water from Aquaguard only which as per the claims of its manufacturer kills the germs by ultraviolet rays after separating them by two or three layers of filteration. But it is another matter whether I have got rid of those worms. They are very much there in my intestines, in my anus. They are almost as immortal as the hopes and dreams of men. I no longer get hopelessly depressed by the immortality and tenacity of those worms and germs as I used to be for a considerable part of my life. Rather they are now like inspiration to me for being resilient, resourceful, forward looking and never losing hope even after all the earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, droughts and famines. Isn’t taking a dose of powerful Albendazole an equivalent of tsunami to them? How many of those mustn’t be perishing with one such dose? Do they ever despair? Do they not always rise up after each fall? Are they not expressions of life energies too? Have I not promised to accept life as it is? They are my tests. Let me not fail in these and my other tests in life too.

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