March 29, 2000
Hakim vs. doctor
Wonderful story ["The
Herbalist"]. Enjoyed it very much indeed. Is this part of a book
or just a short story? Where on earth did you find out so much detail about
a hakim's practices, i.e.
"Then there were scorpion oil, snake's oil, sesame seeds, balsam
oil, grey oil, essence of turpentine, Glycerine, dried herbage, white powder
and blue liquid, humbled on the lower shelves. And on the bottom shelf
were stocky cloth bags, a cast iron scale with brass plates, stone weights
and pestles impatiently resting in rock mortars. An oil portrait of Imam
Ali adorned the adjacent wall, his daring eyes piercing the air."
I like the touch about his eyes.
My late father who was a French trained doctor used to recount these
two stories about Hakims in Iran. Apparently hakims did not like being
referred to as "doctor" by patients and used to reproach such
a patient by saying "I am not a doctor! A doctor is a man who urinates
standing up and facing the qebleh."
His second story was that after a few months of starting his practice,
a few doors down from a hakim bashi, he was surprised to get a referral
letter from the hakim saying "This patient is no longer daai but is
davaii" meaning that prayers no longer helps and he needs medicines
and asked for more modern treatment for his patient. A few weeks later
my father referred to him another patient with a letter saying "This
patient is no longer davaii but is daai". Wish you success.
M.ch , F.R.C.S