Life Giving Margosa

Once a Zamorin of Malabar ordered his minister to plant tamarind trees and groves all over his kingdom to increase his revenue.”

Nambiar of Malabar was a physician of great renown. His expertise in herbal treatment was known all over India. The Arab Hakim, who was state physician to the Emperor at Delhi, had a more excellent reputation as a nature specialist. Still, Nambiar was considered almost as significant as the Arab Hakim.

When Nambiar heard that the Zamorin had ordered tamarind trees to be planted all over Malabar, he went to him. He suggested that margosa trees should be planted instead of tamarind trees which were not conducive to the people’s health.

“That is nonsense,” said the Zamorin. “Tamarind trees are fine things. Tamarind is valuable stuff. Tamarind trees yield the best variety of charcoal. Tamarind buds make delicious dishes. These trees require no maintenance at all. Plant them on the roadside, and in a few years, they grow into giants giving cool shade to the weary traveller. What good is the bitter margosa tree? It is utterly useless.”

Nambiar took leave of the Zamorin and went to the minister. The minister was glad to receive Nambiar. But Nambiar looked at the minister anxiously and examined his eyelids, mouth and pulse.

The minister smiled, saying. “What are you examining me for? I am all right.”

“Now you are quite all right,” said Nambiar gravely. “But you are in for a serious ailment in another six months. I advise you to get treated in time.”

“Then you had better start treating me,” said the minister anxiously.

“I do not think I am capable of handling your trouble. You should see the great Hakim of Delhi,” said Nambiar.

“Even if I take the trouble of making this long journey,” said the minister, “would the Hakim care to attend to me?”

“Certainly. Hakim is a very generous man. He pays attention even to the very poorest,” said Nambiar. “In my opinion, you have very little time to lose.”

On the subject of health Nambiar’s was the last word. The minister obtained a year’s leave from the king and prepared himself for the journey.

As the minister was about to start, Nambiar advised him. “On the way, rest only in the shade of tamarind trees, camp only in tamarind groves at night. Use only tamarind twigs to brush your teeth and have your food cooked only with tamarind fuel.”

The minister set foot in Delhi along with his entourage. On the way, he followed Nambiar’s injunctions to the letter. The minister’s health began to lose long before he arrived in Delhi. He became weak and lost weight. His skin lost its colour and became pale.

“What a wise person! Nambiar could foresee this illness so much in advance,” thought the minister.

On reaching Delhi, he made an appointment with the Hakim without difficulty. The Hakim inquired after Nambiar and then headed to the patient’s story. He could guess that Nambiar sent this patient to him to prove the harm done by tamarind trees to the health of men. “Your disease is a serious one,” said the Hakim to the minister, “but the cure is simple. You can return home right away. On your way back, you only rest in the shade of margosa trees, fan yourself only with margosa branches, camp only in margosa groves, and brush your teeth only with twigs of margosa. No other treatment is called for. Please do not forget to convey my respects to Nambiar. Goodbye, my friend.”

Had anyone else given such advice, the minister would have been thoroughly dissatisfied. But regarding matters of cure, Hakim’s word was final, and the minister started back home, strictly adhering to Hakim’s injunctions.

Long before he reached Malabar, the minister began to recover from his ailments, and by the time he got home, he appeared to be as healthy as ever and even more muscular.

Nambiar came to see him, and the minister recounted all his experiences.

“Let us go to the Zamorin,” Nambiar said. “He should hear your story.” They both went to the Zamorin, to whom the minister told his surprising story.

“I owe an apology to both of you”,. said Nambiar unexpectedly. “The minister was fit as a fiddle when I sent him to Delhi. I wanted to prove how harmful tamarind trees could be. The Hakim proved the efficacy of the margins without any prompting from me. Even now, I beg you to plant margosa trees all over the country and protect the people’s health. Cover all open spaces with margosa groves.”

The Zamorin raised no objections this time. He issued an order for a tree-planting festival, and margosa trees were planted by the millions all over the kingdom. Due to this, people’s health improved significantly, thanks to the wisdom of Nambiar.

Chandamama August 1955 | K R Menon

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