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Saligao's respected doctors And compounders

by Fr. Nascimento Mascarenhas

In the 1950s Saligao had four medical doctors and one self-proclaimed naturopath who called himself a doctor. The five doctors were:

  • Dr Vaglo from Sonarbhatt, father of my classmate Madhuri who had a sister named Kasibai.  Kasibai married my companion Shankar Kamat formerly of Dando, Candolim, but who now resides at Sanquelim.
  • Then there was Dr Avelino Carvalho from Cotula, the son of Dr Teodomiro Carvalho.
  • Dr Florencio de Souza from Nigvaddo, father of my colleague, Fr Armando de Souza.
  • Dr Antonio Menino Machado from Vhoddlem Morodd, father-in-law of another schoolmate of mine, Adolph Mendonca.
  • Then of course there was “Doctor” Mario from Dakttem Morodd, a self-propagating naturopath, father of our friend Calvert.

Dr Vaglo, a soft-spoken man, made only house calls on foot. He always wore a white suit sans tie and carried his medical instruments in his black leather bag. Dr Avelino, the former regedorof the village, had his clinic in the room attached to his vast house in Cotula. He attended house calls on bicycle, although he had a car as well. He wore a bush-shirt most of the time. Dr Florencio attended to the unwell seminarians and staff of the Saligao Seminary, practiced at Candolim and treated those patients that came to his residence. He rode a bicycle and was well dressed and respected.

Dr Menino Machado lived in a well-kept mansion. He had a maternity hospital opposite his residence built in 1934 at Grande Morodd (also known as Vhoddlem Morodd).  His private maternity hospital was first of its kind in Bardez. He made house calls in a chauffer-driven car and always was smartly dressed in a suit. The villagers would approach these medical men according to the severity of their ailments but when somebody was seriously ill, Dr Menino Machado was called upon. People who noticed Dr Menino Machado visiting the house of the person knew that it was serious enough to warrant sending for a priest to come and administer the Unction of the Sick cum Viaticum.

Finally there was the flamboyant Mario. The people of Saligao greeted him as Doctor Mario. I would meet him almost daily in the morning, as I had to pass his house on the way to my school, the Mater Dei Institution. He was of short stature, slightly built and always wore a khaki shirt and khaki shorts He always wore a cowboy hat and strong, brown canvas shoes.  He had a unique style of walking and his way of talking too amused us all. He was very fond of nature cure medicines and after his usual cool bath at the Salmona spring he went in search of herbs and roots around the fountain.

"Doctor" Mario
“Doctor” Mario

Today we have the professionally-run Ayurvedic Natural Health Centre (ANHC) in Saligao, but even back then Mario somehow seemed to know the secrets of these herbs and roots. People respected him on his face but made fun of him behind his back. He, however, enjoyed the title of ‘doctor’ given to him by the village folk, though they knew he was a quack. However, he was an institution.  The piece of root of a tree which he would call defluz cured quite a number of people from head-aches.  He also had secret medicines for small pox, chicken pox, measles and various types of fevers.  My friend Mel D’Souza from Sequeira vaddo in Arrarim informed me that although he had been vaccinated against small pox, his grandmother Louisa Maria de Souza bought a particular root from Dr Mario and had it attached to the scapular that was around his neck.  Mel felt it was like a little bit of extra insurance.

All the medical doctors wrote out prescriptions that were to be meticulously formulated by the ‘compounder’ at the pharmacy in Cotula.  The compounder would prepare the mixture in a rectangular bottle and marked the doses prescribed by first cutting out a strip of white paper about half an inch wide, of a length equal to the height of the mixture in the bottle. He would then fold the paper down to the number of doses written on the prescription, cut notches in the side, unfold the strip and paste it to the side of the bottle.  The notches enabled the patient to measure out the correct dose. Dr Mario, on the other hand, was not qualified to write out prescriptions.  He’d just measure out a length of the root from his cloth pouch and cut notches on it to prescribe the dosage!

Despite everything I personally have fond memories of Dr Mario, because he was quite fond of me and would invariably give me something or the other to eat on my way to school. It is this kind gesture that prompts me to keep his memory alive though it is a long time since he left us for a better world.

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