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The Promise of Varma Treatment in Kerala

We spent the second half of the year 2013 in Ernakulam, Kerala.   My sister lives there with her family and was sorely missing us.  To placate her we decided to visit for a month, but ending up staying for six.

Apart from the famed Ayurvedic treatment in Kerala, its also offers other promising alternatives.  Her friends suggested a Varma treatment / massage that cures the incurable.  This is an ancient Siddha treatment with its origins from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu.  Although we have had some experience of Varma in Chennai, but for some reason the one in Kerala had an authentic ring to it.  

The Master, as the practitioner is addressed, graciously made an exception and visited our father at home.   Between my sister, who can understand malayalam better than speak it, myself with no Malayalam knowledge, the Master with no English and his assistant with some English, we surprisingly communicated with ease and conveyed our father's situation. 

His assessment was that our father was too weak to withstand the Varma treatment.  He would give us an oil that had to be applied for a month and then would recheck to see if our father was ready for the treatment. The Master seemed genuine, kind and a reasonable human being.  

We debated to give the treatment a chance.  But my sister and I were insistent that the Master should start the treatment after a month of oil application, irrespective of our father's condition. With my brother-in-law furiously translating in Malayalam,  my repeated argument was that our father was already 70 years old and its basically race against time. 

All that the Master said was he will see.  We came home with the not inexpensive oil.  Almost ten to fifteen days into the oil application and basic exercises, our father's standing dramatically improved.  He could stand with minimal support for almost 5 - 10 minutes.  It had never happened before and was miraculous.  Maybe there was something to the herbs in the oil.  

But in the following days he grew increasingly tired and was sleeping most of the time.  The Master had warned us of this possibility.  Our father was so exhausted that the Master asked to stop and requested we call him in about ten days for an assessment to start the treatment.  

Given the positive start we were looking breathlessly forward for the treatment.  

Ten days later, my sister called to fix a date for the treatment only to be told by his assistant that the Master suffered a massive heart attack and was in hospital for surgery.   Great news. 

We checked on him periodically out of both genuine concern and selfish reasons.  Obviously more of the later. We also paid a visit immediately upon his discharge.  Master was on bed, would communicate only through gestures.  The gestures had only one answer - 3 months before he can be on his feet, forget rigorous massage.  So much for my race against time plea.

Not the one to give up, my sister tracked down another Varma practitioner.  He incidentally was a student of the Master, but now had a separate practice.  Maybe they had a bad fall out.   He sounded nice and promised to come visit our father the next day.   Neither did he show up at the promised hour nor did he answer my sister's incessant calls.  He later called from a new number and gave adolescent excuses of losing SIM, was busy, "oh I thought you will call", "didn't have your number".   Yes, he managed to say all of this. He once again promised to come the next day.  We never heard from him again.  We finally learnt to let go.

All the oil application, anticipation of Varma with bated breath, long drawn stay in Eranakulam didn't really culminate into any treatment.  Who says we have given up?  Maybe we will find some new Master to hound close home in Chennai. 


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