From a Veterinary Doctor's Diary
Story of Appu
As a veterinary surgeon, I have often been abused,
kicked, and bitten by my patients. Not for any grudge or hatred they
but it was the only way they could react while being subjected to some
the painful procedures. A strong kick from a cow at the most vulnerable
parts can send any vet flying out of the cattle shed. You will find more
calluses on the shinbones of a vet than on any international hockey
The events that follow happened in 1981 during my first
tenure as veterinary surgeon at a dispensary in Kadinumkulam (a village
in South India). Appu was rather nondescript dog who stands out from
among those who subjected me to such
abuse. I have never seen a dog with such a sense of humor. Appu belonged
nobody but the whole village owned him and loved him.
His performance as a stud was extraordinary and the females, of
the species often fought to catch his eyes, as a result you will find
of his offsprings in and around Kadinamkulam. But, his testosterone
so high that he started venturing out of the village in search of
and the villagers thought that enough was enough and decided to castrate
Castration is a surgically simple-enough procedure in which
the testicles are removed and the animal rendered neutral. The mantle
on me. I still do hate having to do it – but when the owners insist, you
have no other choice. We decided to do it on a Sunday morning.
Sunday came; Appu was given a royal bath and courted
into surgery by a horde of well wishers. He behaved like a well brought
child and came in smiling. During those days, short acting tranquilizers
unheard of and we used to undertake minor surgical procedures under
anesthesia. He was muzzled, lifted on to the table, forced to lie on his
back with his legs stretched apart. After grumbling a little while, he
decided to co-operate and lay still.
In the veterinary profession, the surgeon often has
to perform the role of barber, anesthetist, and pathologist performing a
postmortem.. Barbers come first in any surgical procedure and I consider
myself quite an expert at it. So preparation of the site was
undertaken, Appu's scrotum was scrubbed, lathered with soap and shaved
using a razor. Not fully satisfied with my first attempt I had a second
go at it till his scrotal skin shone, like a well-polished shoe.
It is not often , a veterinary surgeon gets
the chance to show off his shaving skills that too on a dog's
adornments. Proud of my performance so far I decided to brief the Sunday
morning crowd on the surgical proceedings they were about to witness. I
on the air of an expert surgeon who has performed countless number of
castrations (in actual fact, it was the first I was to perform
single-handedly and I was trying hard to keep my hands from shaking.)
" A linear incision of about an inch long will
be placed on the scrotal skin after infiltrating local anesthetic under
the scrotal skin and into the testicles", I expounded. There was total
silence and the crowd drew nearer. "This exposes the tunica vaginalis
is also incised and now applying a little pressure the testicles pop out
I turned around, pretended not to see the many eyes
popping out of their sockets eager to hear what I was going to say
next. "the testicles are then removed by severing it from the spermatic
the avasscular portion and the vascular portion are knotted together to
arrest any bleeding". "The wound is left open for effective drainage,
scrotal sac shrinks in a weeks time', I finished. All this while Appu
listening to me with keen interest wagging his tail, in a happy frame of
unaware of his losing his masculinity a few moments from now.
"O.K. let's start" I said and look the syringe
loaded with local anesthetic in my hand. Everything happened in a
of a second, Appu jumped up and took off like a streak of lightning, and
crowd ran after him. Their attempts proved futile, I collapsed into
the chair, my image badly tarnished and my spirit at its lowest, unaware
still of the calamities yet to come.
Monday-morning hours are always busy and so the
previous day's misadventure was forgotten. After the day's busy
clinical routine I was settling down into my chair to do some letter
when my eyes were drawn by the sun's rays reflecting off some glistening
round object. I couldn't believe my eyes. There was Appu standing by a
coconut tree just in front of my door, in a urinating posture exhibiting
shaven ornaments mockingly at me.
I pretended to ignore him but couldn't help look
at the end product of my shaving skills through the corner of my eyes.
was a strange expression of superiority on his face as if to belittle
veterinary surgeon in me. I was reduced to the status of an underside
that too of a nondescript dog.
It became a routine affair, every morning he
would come at the appointed hour to flash those shining globules at
me, pivoting on one leg the other extended skywards. Sometimes swinging
like a simple pendulum till I either got annoyed and started howling
at him, or until those orbs lost their momentum and came to a
was mad for revenge; a doctor gunning for his patient sounds ridiculous.
He was due for his next shave, another Sunday
morning was chosen. This time he was overpowered and the shaving neatly
done. As I turned around and started scrubbing my hand there was
behind me, Appu inflicted a gaping wound on the hand of a bystander
him down and dashed off the table.
I was reminded of my physics master Madhavan
Nair Sir who taught me that light travels faster than sound. The yells
the bystander reached me much later than flash of his freshly polished
orbs. Days passed on and to add insult to the injury, my favorite
did it two times every day.
We decided to go in for a third attempt
myself as willing as the rest. This time the modus operandi was well
discussed, briefing given like from a commanding Officer to his
subordinates. All possible loopholes plugged, Appu was sedated, and the
shaving gone through quickly, I become an expert at this particular part
now and could do it with my eyes closed. Even under sedation he smiled.
Surgery was done under local anesthesia and recovery was uneventful and
he walked out of the dispensary like a drunk, still under sedation.
I went away of a week's leave and on
my return I was annoyed to learn Appu was missing since surgery. Much to
my relief Appu returned with his empty sac in a few days. He was never
same Appu ever again. The lack of male hormones seemed to have had its
impact on him. He seemed to develop a lot more fat around his waist and
no more interested in the opposite sex.
He suddenly developed a sudden interest
in taking up night patrolling in earnest. He soon became a terror
bicycle riders without headlamps or pillion riders, a role strictly
the policeman those days. He never came back to the dispensary but every
a while he would come to its rusty gate lean against it and exhibit his
shrunken scrotal sac, resembling a dried up lemon to me. All the
while keeping a blank expression on his face.
He was never the same old Appu, our loss was greater than his.
Editor's Note: This story was sent by Dr. Savio Manatt
MD. The veterinary surgeon from Kerala, India who wrote this story is a
schoolmate of Dr. Savio.
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