Monday, May 22, 2006

The Milky Way

Permission to reproduce this article has to be obtained from Hindustan Times

For this retired photographer, food for him is only milk

Shevlin Sebastian

When you look at Deepak Choksi, (65), you will realise there is nothing wrong with him. A retired photographer, he has pink cheeks and broad shoulders. But Choski has one oddity: he has only drunk milk all his life and has never eaten solid foods. Unlike most children, who move from milk to food, Choksi remained stuck on the liquid. “My parents went to temples and churches and did all sorts of pujas, but nothing could make me eat food,” he says.
Sitting next to Choksi is his sister, Bharti Shah, who has come visiting. “When he was small, my mother thought he would start eating after some time and so, we did not bother too much,” she says. “But slowly, we realised there was something wrong when he continued to drink milk.”
Today, Choski’s schedule goes like this: at 6.30 am, he has two glasses of milk. After half an hour, he will have one glass. An hour later, he will quaff two more glasses. Then after another half an hour, another glass. And this goes on throughout the day. “I drink two and a half litres every day,” he says. The interesting thing is that he does not have pure milk. It has to be mixed, fifty-fifty, with water. Sugar and, sometimes, spoonfuls of Bournvita are added, by maidservant Pooja. Choksi’s wife, Panna, died ten years ago of a heart attack. He now lives with newly-married son, Sameer, a sub-broker and daughter-in-law, Elisha at their first floor apartment in Girgaum.
When he is not drinking milk, Choski drinks water, sometimes with Electral, to get energy. When he sees food, he has no reaction. If you put a piece of chapatti in his mouth, after half an hour, it will remain there. “My father does not know how to chew or swallow,” says daughter Jayshvi, who lives nearby, and is visiting with her son. If Choski comes across non-vegetarian food, especially when it is being cooked, he has a vomiting fit.
Asked about what could be the possible reason for the milk addiction, Jayshvi says that the family’s guru, Narendra Ghor Maharaj, studied the horoscope and said that in Choksi’s previous life, a sage was eating food and her father, in a drunken fit, kicked away the plate. “Thereafter, the sage cursed my father and said that in his next life, he would not be able to eat food,” she says. On a more realistic plane, his physician of many years, Shirish Shah says it is a behavioural problem. “I could not find any physical reason,” he says. “Choski is a healthy man although he suffers now and then from anaemia.”
Jayshvi looks with affection at her father, who is reclining on an easy chair, and says, “From childhood, we accepted him as he is. My brother and I eat normal food.” Choksi’s face suddenly crunches up in pain and he says, “I sometimes ask God what sin have I done that I am condemned to suffer like this. Why was I not like other children?” The question, sadly, is six decades too late.

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