After reading my blogpost on Mr KP Damodaran, our Compounder at Sainik School, Amaravathi Nagar, Veteran Commander NK Parrat, reminisced about the medical treatment of Cadets by Mr KP Damodaran.
Commander Parrat was in 11th Grade, senior most in school, when we joined in 5th Grade in 1971. He then Joined the National Defence Academy (48 Course) and was commissioned into the Indian Navy (IN.) His claim to fame, both at the School and at the Academy, was his swimming and basketball skills. He later became a Clearance Diver in the Navy. He came out with flying colours and was cleared for 100 meter deepsea diving in a Diving and Salvage Course at the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC), Panama City, Florida, USA.
Commander NK Parrat’s father, Late Lieutenant AK Parrat served the Royal Indian Navy (RIN) and was transferred to IN on India’s independence. Lieutenant AK Parrat specialised in air-radio and was posted at INS Hansa, which was then located at Coimbatore. Thus Commander NK Parrat joined Sainik School Amaravathinagar.
With the liberation of Goa in December 1961 from the Portuguese, INS Hansa moved to Dabolim, Goa and Lieutenant AK Parrat was posted to Kochi, Kerala. He now offered his son Commander NK Parrat, then in grade 6, that he could move to Sainik School, Kazhakkoottam, Kerala. Commander NK Parrat refused on the plea “I do not want to be new boy again!“
AK Parrat knew Mr Damodaran from their RIN days and instantly a special relationship was established. Mr Damodaran was well known as he had actively participated in the Bombay Mutiny, a revolt by Indian sailors of the Royal Indian Navy on board ship and shore establishments at Bombay harbour on 18 February 1946.
Lieutenant Percy S Gourgey, RIN, in his book, ‘The Indian Naval Report of 1946,′ has chronicled the events of the revolt. The sailors were infuriated by the statements of Commander F M King, RIN, of HMIS Talwar, when he addressed the Indian sailors as ‘sons of coolies and bitches.’ Later, around 20,000 sailors stationed at Karachi, Madras, Calcutta, Mandapam, Visakhapatnam, and the Andaman Islands joined the revolt.
The revolt began with a demand for better food and working conditions, but turned into demand for independence from British rule. They also demanded the release of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA), action against the commander for ill-treatment and using insulting language, revision of pay and allowances to be at par with the sailors in the Royal Navy, etc.
That was a bit on the history of the Bombay Mutiny.
How did Mr Damodaran earn a place in the heart of all the cadets at Sainik School, Amaravathi Nagar?
It was all due to his dedication and love for the cadets. He had many a magic potions which could cure all diseases and injuries the cadets suffered.
On returning from the sports field after a hard day’s play and leaving behind the epidermal layer on the ground, all Cadets straight went to the MI Room for an appointment with Mr Damodaran.
He cleaned the wound with savlon solution, applied a gauze over the wound and painted it with a layer of ‘Tincture Benzoin.’ It burned as the tincture was applied, but was a sure cure for all superficial skin wounds. After the superficial wound was cleaned with savlon, a gauze was placed on the wound and Tincture Benzoin was painted over it. It burned as it was applied, but the adhesive nature of the medication ensured that it stuck to the wound and did not need bandaging. On healing, the gauze fell off by itself.
Many cadets suffered from fungal infections of the skin, ringworm, athlete’s foot, scabies, etc – all because we played in the dirt, many a times bare-footed. Gentian Violet, an antiseptic dye was used to treat these cases. The cadet who suffered from the infection stood out as the dye remained on the skin for over a week. It was a sure way to mark out those ‘Unhygienic Cadets.’
There were two magic potions compounded by Mr Damodaran – Soda-Sal (Sodium Salicylate) and Sodium-bicarbonate. Soda-Sal is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent for relieving pain and reducing fever. Sodium-bicarbonate was the antacid. Mr Damodaran had them in two labeled bell-shaped jars and was dispensed lavishly to cadets for any ailments.
We had the awful smelling IG Paint (Ichthammol Glycerin), also called black ointment or black drawing salve, a remedy for many skin disorders and inflammation. It is made from sulfonated shale oil and combined with other ingredients, like lanolin or petroleum. For any sprains, this ‘stinking’ paint was lavishly applied.
The most uncomfortable potion was the Mandl’s Paint, used as throat paint for the treatment of pharyngitis, laryngitis, tonsillitis and sore throat. Due to high viscous nature, it retains the drug for longer time on affected part of the throat. The agony was that he inserted into the mouth a cotton swab attached to a foot-long stick the paint to paint the patient’s throat. It left a severe after-taste, but it cured all those medical conditions in a few days – without any antibiotics.
Most of the medicines listed above have been discontinued today due to their harmful side-effects. It was with Mr Damodaran’s loving care that we cadets of the days trained and graduated from the school without any serious medical conditions.