XXII. FAITH ON ITS
Though I had hired chambers in the fort and a house in
Girgaum, God would not let me settle down. Scarcely had I
moved into my new house when my second son Manilal, who
had already been through an acute attack of smallpox some
years back, had a severe attack of typhoid, combined with
pneumonia and signs of delirium at night.
The doctor was called in. He said medicine would have
little effect, but eggs and chicken broth might be given
Manilal was only ten years old. To consult his wishes
was out of the question. Being his guardian I had to
decide. The doctor was a very good Parsi. I told him that
we were all vegetarians and that I could not possibly
give either of the two things to my son. Would he
therefore recommend something else?
'Your son's life is in danger,' said the good doctor.
'We could give him milk diluted with water, but that will
not give him enough nourishment. As you know, I am called
in by many Hindu families, and they do not object to
anything I prescribe. I think you will be well advised
not to be so hard on your son.'
'What you say is quite right,' said I. 'As a doctor
you could not do otherwise. But my responsibility is very
great. If the boy had been grown up, I should certainly
have tried to ascertain his wishes and respected them.
But here I have to think and decide for him. To my mind
it is only on such occasions, that a man's faith is truly
tested Rightly or wrongly it is part of my religious
conviction that man may not eat meat, eggs, and the like.
There should be a limit even means of keeping ourselves
alive. Even for itself we may not so certain things.
Religion, as I understand it, does not permit me to use
meat or eggs for me or mine even on occasions like this,
and I must therefore take the risk that you say is
likely. But I beg of you one thing. As I cannot avail
myself of your treatment, I propose to try some
hydropathic remedies which I happen to know. But I shall
not know how to examine the boy's pulse, chest, lungs,
etc. If you will kindly look in from time to time to
examine him and keep me informed of his condition, I
shall be grateful to you.'
The good doctor appreciated my difficulty and agreed
to my request. Though Manilal could not have made his
choice, I told him what had passed between the doctor and
myself and asked him his opinion.
'Do try your hydropathic treatment,' he said. 'I will
not have eggs or chicken broth.'
This made me glad, though I realized that, if I had
given him either of these, he would have taken it.
I knew Kuhne's treatment and had tried it too. I knew
as well that fasting also could be tried with profit. So
I began to give Manilal hip baths according to Kuhne,
never keeping him in the tub for more than three minutes,
and kept him on orange juice mixed with water for three
But the temperature persisted, going up to 104. At
night he would be delirious. I began to get anxious. What
would people say of me? What would my elder brother think
of me? Could we not call in another doctor? Why not have
an Ayurvedic physician? What right had the parents to
inflict their fads on their children?
I was haunted by thoughts like these. Then a contrary
current would start. God would surely be pleased to see
that I was giving the same treatment to my son as I would
give myself. I had faith in hydropathy, and little faith
in allopathy. The doctors could not guarantee recovery.
At best they could experiment. The tread of life was in
the hands of God. Why not trust it to Him and in His name
go on with what I thought was the right treatment?
My mind was torn between these conflicting thoughts.
It was night. I was in Manilal's bed lying by his side. I
decided to give him a wet sheet pack. I got up, wetted a
sheet, wrung the water out of it and wrapped it about
Manilal, keeping only his head out and then covered him
with two blankets. To the head I applied a wet towel. The
whole body was burning like hot iron, and quite parched.
There was absolutely no perspiration.
I was sorely tired. I left Manilal in the charge of
his mother, and went out for a walk on Chaupati to
refresh myself. It was about ten o'clock. Very few
pedestrians were out. Plunged in deep thought, I scarcely
looked at them, 'My honour is in Thy keeping oh Lord, in
this hour of trial,' I repeated to myself. #Ramanama# was
on my lips. After a short time I returned, my heart
beating within my breast.
No sooner had I entered the room than Manilal said,
'You have returned, Bapu?'
'Do please pull me out. I am burning.'
'Are you perspiring, my boy?'
'I am simply soaked. Do please take me out.'
I felt his forehead. It was covered with beads of
perspiration. The temperature was going down. I thanked
'Manilal, your fever is sure to go now. A little more
perspiration and then I will take you out.'
'Pray, no. Do deliver me from this furnace. Wrap me
some other time if you like.'
I just managed to keep him under the pack for a few
minutes more by diverting him. The perspiration streamed
down his forehead. I undid the pack and dried his body.
Father and son fell asleep in the same bed.
And each slept like a log. Next morning Manilal had
much less fever. He went on thus for forty days on
diluted milk and fruit juices. I had no fear now. It was
an obstinate type of fever, but it had been got under
Today Manilal is the healthiest of my boys. Who can
say whether his recovery was due to God's grace, or to
hydropathy, or to careful dietary and nursing? Let
everyone decide according to his own faith. For my part I
was sure that God had saved my honour, and that belief
remains unaltered to this day.