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The Leech Therapy

It was my duty to tie my cow for grazing in any vacant rice field on my way to grade school and bring her home at lunch time.  One day this cow was missing.

That morning, I had noticed a limp in her leg.  Well, I missed attending my afternoon school, in search of her.   Finally, I found her in a pond (thalhen), where I had taken her for a drink or for a cool dip, occasionally.  This day, she was not responding to my calls to get her out of this pond.   I had to go deep into the water, and by twisting her tail, I made her listen to me.  There must have been about 50 or 80 leaches (jholu) all over her, however, there was a group of them stuck to her injured leg joint, looking like bright red  bunch of ripe ‘thendlin’.  I tried to pluck them off of her.  They were slimy, and were stuck tight.  Meanwhile, I noticed I too was  attacked.  There were 5-6 of them hanging on between my toes, less bulging though.   I got panicked, and both of us raced home.  My  mother had a solution, by all means..  She borrowed (we borrowed not to return, anyway.), our neighbor’s ‘chuno’ (a by product of khube shells).  She did not even, touch them with it, however, the closeness caused them to fall to the ground, like ‘ambade’.  My two or three daring chicken feasted on some of them.   Well, in a day or two I noticed my cow was perfectly healthy.  How did the cow know to treat herself thus? My skin between the toes, infected with ‘nanju’, as a reward for playing/jumping in stagnant puddles, had also healed fully.  My mother and I finally deducted that the ‘paad ragath’, was sucked up by those blood-sucking leeches!   Next day, I caught some more, placed them in a glass jar, and  cured my ‘nanju’ from both the feet after a few exposures.  The chronic treatment of Barkur sarkari hospital’s vaseline/ointment was not tested in animals nor in humans before marketing, I suppose. 

I joked with my mother saying “Ami  thyaa nanju ulouncha Rukkucha thondanth 3 ya 4 cheplyear, kashen jaith mai?!”

“ Athan, kon  nanju ulaitha putha?”, was her reply, with a disciplinary tone.

Well, believe it not, leaches are used for medical purposes extensively.  Leeches have a chemical that prevents blood from clotting, a requirement in certain medical procedures, Their saliva contains an anesthetic which makes its bite not to hurt!  (That’s why, I did not know when I was bitten!, not because, I was slow/buddu!) 

These can be used in re-attaching toes or fingers.  There are leech raising farms all over the world, earning money.  Just type ‘leech’ in any ‘search’ space on internet, and  you will be bombarded by leeches.  I wouldn’t call this leech holy, but my cow, surely! 

 Name withheld by request.


Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210

Copyright Kishoo, Barkur 2002.