I came to Delhi in 1973 at the age of 19 to manage the New Delhi branch of Dhanwanthari Vaidyasala. The Vaidyasala was an ayurvedic medical hospital with headquarters at Thodupuzha in Kerala. The branch, which actually was an ayurvedic medical shop, was located at Padam Singh Road in Karol Bagh. I was staying with my elder cousins in Greater Kailash. Every day I took private buses ‘under DTC operation’ in route no. 5B – Arya Samaj Road to Greater Kailash. The shop was usually closed at around 7.30 in the evening. I then walk to Arya Samaj Road and board a bus back to Greater Kailash. The journey took more than an hour and I normally reached home around 9 o’clock. By that time cousins would have prepared dinner. If I was late, sometimes they also had supper before I came.
One day when I came, as it happens sometimes, cousins had already taken their supper. I was hungry and started eating supper after changing. It used to be rice and some curry every day. But that day I felt something strange with the curry. As soon as I started taking food, I felt something very strange. I didn’t know how to explain the feeling. I knew there was something wrong. Was it the taste? Was it the smell? I didn’t know. There was something terribly unfamiliar and certainly not to my liking. I could not eat even half the normal quantity, though I was hungry. I could not eat the rest and threw it in the waste basket. I asked my cousin what was the curry which made it impossible for me to take it. He did not give a direct response. They also tried to avoid the question. They, however, told me that there was nothing special. But I still remember the mischievous smile on their faces as if they have conquered a country in a war.
Within half an hour of taking the food, I vomited for the first time. Also, I had an upset stomach. After some time I vomited again. I could not sleep the whole night due to the upset stomach which forced me to run to the toilet a number of times during the night. I also vomited a few more times. Seeing my pathetic condition, and because I went on insisting that I should know what had been so special in the curry – because I knew there was something that they hid from me – at last they admitted it was egg curry.
I was shocked and terribly upset. If some friends had done this to me to play a prank, I could have understood. But when my own cousin, who very well knew that I did not take egg or non-vegetarian food, cheated me, I felt very upset and really angry. They had been exploiting my inability to recognise egg curry. But I was not in a condition to even tell them anything. I was down with the upset stomach and vomiting for nearly two days.
Fortunately, after that day they did not try anything similar to that.
After that day, several times I asked myself, “Why did he do this to me?”
I could not find an answer to this day. But I tried to forget it and thought I was able to do it. But it is not easy to forget things that affect one’s mind very deeply.