First published on January 23, 2010:

 

 

Dr. Sharples, Messrs. Kwok, Carl & Pamoo

by

Julius B. Nathoo

Jules will forgive me for betraying his confidence, but after reading his blog and all the comments, I feel I must share one detail which I am privileged to know.  Jules told me that in the course of writing this blog he wept like a child.

I salute all our bloggers – men and women –  who take so much time to share with us the story of their life, their experiences, and perspective.  They do so not to impress but to impart to us something more precious than pearls. Namely, the knowledge and wisdom of the agesAdministrator

The Port Mourant Hospital was not always located across from the Roopmahal Cinema. In the good old days of the great cricketers ( Butcher, Solomon, Madray , Appadoo and others), it was located near to the creche. It was there that my mother used to take me on those dreaded Saturdays for my dose of Castor Oil or Worm Oil which was administered by Mr. Kwok or his assistant Carl ( so famously mentioned by Rodney). Dr. Sharples was in charge. I can still see him in his white suit- the nearest thing to God in Port Mourant. He lived in the Overseers' Quarters while Mr. Kwok lived in the house near to the hospital. Mr. Kwok (pronounced "Koo") had some lovely guava trees in his yard and many a time he caught me right on top of one of the trees stealing guavas. He used to wait for me to come down. I never did, not until he left for work. I could have stayed all day  if necessary rather than face his wrath. In those days we all believed that he could kill us with one injection!

 

 The hospital really had two storeys (as far as I can recall) where all the paitients were housed and the dispensary was on the main floor. My brother was hospitalized there for a long time with a bad leg. I remember that I used to take my dinner to him in exchange for his hospital food which was always dholl and salt-fish. I loved (and I still do) dholl and saltfish more than any other food. Hospital food was prepared downstairs in the hospital kitchen by Matilda who had a lovely daughter- another reason why I visited often.  But below the hospital in a separate room was the "dead house" the morgue  where corpses were brought and kept. The strangest stories are associated with this "dead house." Corpses have been known to rise up (as the story goes) and scare the hell out of mourners. Near to the dead house was a tamarind tree. My parents used to warn me not to climb that tree for fear of encountering ghosts who could thrown me down on the "palin" (wooden fence). I am sorry to say that I never did see any ghosts but I did pluck many an excellent tamarind which, when mixed with salt and pepper, was a delicacy.. Some preferred to mix it with sugar but not me. If I wanted sugar I could buy "jabba suga fo boton"  (button).  I can still hear the cry of the salesmen in training in the schoolyard: "Jabba suga fo boton; gal and baay a coton (courting)".

 

When the hospital was moved to its present location, a dispensary was erected where it had stood . Mr. Kwok lived in the house above and Carl moved into the house where he used to live. Stealers of fruits now had to deal with Carl's wife, Florence, Hilton Boodram's auntie. She was fiercer than Mr. Kwok and there was less guava stealing during her regime. If she caught you on top of one of her trees, she would wait all day for you to come down. Eventually you did come down and then you ran like hell. Florence was furious when we played underhand near her property. We hit many a soft ball into her yard and, needless to say, they were never recovered. She kept two fierce dogs! Carl, on the other hand, had a gentle personality.

 

When Carl became chief dispenser, Cecil Deepoo, known as Pamoo became his assistant. I personally witnessed the evolution of Pamoo into a skilled dispenser. We soon began to call him "doc." He was one of the creche boys and we were proud of him. Pamoo later moved to

New York. He and his wife (Capasula's daughter) had several successful children; one became a lawyer. He was a kind man and did a lot of good for poor people of Port Mourant. Pamoo had a brother called "Cutty" because of a large scar on his abdomen left when he had surgery for appendicitis. Cutty was my best friend. Cutty never went to high school; his mom could not afford to send him. (His father had died while Cutty was a baby). Whenever I think of the concept of equal opportunity I weep for Cutty. After I left for Berbice High School, I never saw Cutty again. I am told that Cutty died young. His absence has left a permanent void in my heart. Try as I might I cannot understand why this thing called death can be so permanent, so utterly and devastatingly final! Oh Lord, help me to know what I am! 

  

My personal thanks to Rodney Gocool and to the Reverend Randolph Etwaroo for jogging my memory of the old hospital, of the way we were, of the days we thought would never end! When it was bliss to be alive and to be young was very heaven. Those days are gone but, thank God, how alive are the memories! God bless Port Mourant Hospital- both the old and the new and especially Mr. Kwok, Carl and Pamoo who saved many a life and eased a lot of suffering not to mention killing a lot of worms!

Julius B. Nathoo