Shadi Bhavan was situated on a small ridge abutting the Camel’s Back Road. The general area was very lonely and remained bereft of sunshine except for the afternoon, when the sun was overhead.
The house was uncomfortable and damp, and cold draughts of air entered the house all the time. Scorpions fell from the skylight in the bedroom, so that Mateshwari had to scan the bed sheets and pillows very carefully at night before they went into bed.
Mateshwari had, with her usual ingenuity, placed mosquito nets above the beds for protection. The skylight leaked whenever it rained heavily and sometimes the glass in it broke when hailstones hit the house.
In the nights there were the sounds of jackals howling even as they came quite close to the house. People even said that bears would come up to that side of the mountain from the forests that extended outwards into the faraway mountains.
Priya Nath caught a chill in the house, which later developed into bronchitis and double pneumonia. No sooner had he begun recovering from this when he was hit by typhoid. It was common for the typhoid germ to come from the cow’s milk that was sold in the city. With two such serious illnesses, the recovery of Priya Nath appeared impossible.
All throughout the illness of Priya Nath, Shri Nathji played the part of the perfect father. He was full of love all the time for his family, and the more so whenever anyone was ill.
When Mateshwari had been ill in October 1941, after giving birth to Priya Nath at Plevna Cottage, Shri Nathji had looked after her like a devoted husband.
He had fought against the illness and obtained whatever medical aid he could get in the isolated atmosphere of the winter of Mussoorie, and had ultimately nursed Mateshwari back to good health. Now that Priya Nath was ill, Shri Nathji showed the same concern for him and laboured hard day and night to see that he was cured, bringing every possible medicine and tonic that he could get from the chemist’s shops at Mussoorie.
Priya Nath was being treated by the local doctor at the Municipal Dispensary in the Library area at Mussoorie. In the isolation of the hills, medical aid was still a scarcity.
However, Shri Nathji was miraculously able to find a highly qualified physician visiting the city, who had come to Mussoorie for his summer holidays.
The man was a certain Dr. Sayeed Khan, who had multiple degrees from London. Dr. Sayeed Khan examined Priya Nath at Shadi Bhavan and found his condition to be precarious, the more so since there was no definite treatment for the ailment he was suffering from during those days.
The Doctor’s Diagnosis
June 2, 1947,
Dr. Sayeed Khan
MRCP (Eng), LRCP (London)
“ I have today examined baby, Priya Nath, age 6 years. In my opinion he is suffering from Enteric Fever. Pulse is very weak. Rate 120. Temperature at the moment 101oF. The child is supposed to have had lung complications before I saw him, for which he was treated with Sulpha Drugs. At present his lungs are clear except for slight bronchitis. He is passing urine freely and has motions every other day with the help of glycerine suppositories.
General condition is rather weak.
MRCS (Eng), LRCP (London)
Shri Nathji would purchase all the tonics and medicines from the chemists in the city, Pioneer in Kulri Bazar or James Co near the Picture Palace Cinema Hall, and bring them home, so that Mateshwari could administer them to Priya Nath.
There was Cod Liver Oil, amongst other things, and Shri Nathji brought bottle after bottle of the tonic for Priya Nath as time progressed.
The doctor had prescribed a nourishing diet, and said eggs were a necessity in the cold climate of Mussoorie. Although Shri Nathji and Mateshwari never touched eggs, they brought them for Priya Nath’s sake as a medicine. Mateshwari dutifully gave soft-boiled eggs to Priya Nath for the entire duration of his illness.
Shri Nathji had decided at once to leave Shadi Bhavan and to find a place with greater sunshine and comfort. He was able to find accommodation in the Upper Flat of Kahkashan Cottage. The house was situated at a spot where the sun came practically the whole day long. It was situated just below Savoy Hotel, at the start of the Spring Road at Mussoorie.