Dayaram was the first person in his village to have passed the SSC examination. His father was a small farmer having about three acres of land which was not sufficient for generating adequate income. He always had a problem meeting both ends. To get out of this farming trap he had decided to educate Dayaram to the extent it was possible for him. Even to do this he had to raise a small loan to send Dayaram during the last two years to a School that was away from their village. Under these conditions when Dayaram passed SSC exam his father was extremely happy.
However, that was his dream just half fulfilled. He wanted Dayaram to do some short term course so as to start earning income as soon as possible. He felt that a course in livestock management was right choice since the duration was just one year and after that even if there was no job his son could use his skill to become dairy farmer. As Dayaram underwent that course he learnt about various breeds of cows and buffaloes, their feeding requirements, breeding behavior, common diseases and their prevention, treatment etc.
On completion of that course he was lucky to get a job as Stockman in a large size dairy farm. His monthly salary of about three hundred rupees was good during those days. It was actually a charitable Cow Development Trust with few hundred Desi cows producing good quantity of milk. The Trust had local workers who were managing cows for several years under one Veterinary Officer Dr Keskar.
As the Trust had decided to expand its activities they appointed Veterinary Officers and few Stockmen, Dayaram being one of them. Dr Pradhan was appointed at a later stage as Director. He had four decades of experience to his credit. The Trust also established a diagnostic laboratory with Dr Thakur as Pathologist. With these persons on roll the Trust had decided to give impetus to cattle development work on a large scale.
Under the old set up Dr Keskar was looking after overall management of cows and now Dayaram was posted as his assistant. He was assigned duty to supervise milking hours in morning and evening that involved recording the milk yield and the quantity of cattle-feed fed to each cow. Once in a week he started recording the body weight of calves to know the growth rates. Dr Keskar also told him to watch animals in the afternoon and also in the late evening when they are resting, so that cows in heat or any disease symptoms could be noticed in time.
Dayaram liked his job so much that he became familiar with many animals. There were champion cows producing amazing quantity of milk and very good looking heifers as promising producers. He learnt from Dr. Keskar how to judge cows for milk production from their body shape. He noticed that by and large the cross bred cows on that farm had more potential. But all of them were not born on the farm. Dr Keskar told him that some animals were actually brought from an auction in a Military Dairy Farm. The Military Farm had culled those cows as below average milk producers but each one had given increased milk production after coming here. The most interesting story however was about crossbred cow Yamuna. Dr Keskar told him that the Military Farm had culled her as “empty” because she was failing to conceive. But when Dr Keskar sought permission and examined her internal organs he had actually found her pregnant. So without saying anything the animal was purchased as “empty” cow but she delivered a crossbred female calf after five months.
That female calf had now grown up as Kapila, a beautiful heifer approaching maturity.
A Holstein cross, she was very alert, blackish in color with shining body coat and sparkle in her eyes and had grown tall enough. She had tremendous potential to grow into a prized animal. It actually meant that when Yamuna was purchased this heifer was inside her something like two in one. “ It means experienced people also make mistakes.” Dayaram had said to himself after listening to that story. If everything went well Kapila was ready in four months due for insemination. Whenever Dayaram looked at her he often dreamt he should possess Kapila and if that were to happen he would surely build his small herd in couple of years in his village.
Dayaram was so much absorbed in farm routine that only when he received a letter from his father he realized that six months had passed since he left his village. His father had written that his mother was sick and it would give her relief if he could come and see her. When he showed that letter to Dr Keskar he instantly sanctioned three days’ leave to Dayaram. As he went to his native village Dayaram also carried some money from his savings which was very much needed at home.
When Dayaram returned from village he was tired of hectic overnight bus journey. After taking bath he felt much better and immediately proceeded to start his regular work at the farm. As he went through milking shed he saw from a distance Dr Keskar in a shed of grown-up heifers standing near Kapila. As he went closer he saw Kapila was in sitting position and Dr Keskar had worried look on his face.
” What happened Sir ? …” he enquired looking at Kapilaas he sat near her.
“ Oh you are back ! “ Dr Keskar said “ Your Kapila is sick Dayaram .. and most probably this could be Theileria.
“ Theileria ! “ Dayaram said shockingly.
He remembered in Training School they were taught about Theileria. It was told that Theileria is a disease like Maleria. Just as Maleria is caused by mosquito bites, Theileria is caused in cattle by tick bites. Cross bred cattle are more susceptible, they have no resistance and my God, there is no drug ! Dayaram got worried with these thoughts.
He inserted his hand under Kapila’s thigh and found a swollen lymph gland.
“Sir, the gland here is too much swollen, and she has fever. “ he said as he felt it.
“That’s typical Dayaram, Keskar said.
“ Sir, but she was eating as usual.. just three days back.”
“That is also typical.. but since yesterday she has gone off feed.” Dr. Keskar said.
“Sir, what to do now…?” Dayaram asked.
“We have to start treating her. Let us first report this case to Dr Pradhan. We have Dr Thakur, we have laboratory.. something we will work out…” Dr Keskar said.
When Dr Keskar informed over phone about the sickness of Kapila Dr Pradhan was upset. When he heard about possibility of Theileria he was nearly furious.
” What you people are doing ?” He shouted and enquired about details. He was not satisfied with explanation that the heifer was doing well and suddenly became sick.
” This is failure !” He said, ” You have to watch feeding of each animal on daily basis and what about grooming and checking for presence of ticks ? What your assistants are doing ?” He asked.
No answer would have satisfied Dr Pradhan.
Actually he had reservations about the cadre of livestock assistants and told Dr Keskar long back that trusting these half-educated people was no good.
” Sir, these boys come from village and they grow up in vicinity of cattle. Although preliminary, but they know something and with some experience….” Dr Keskar had tried to plead their case. But Dr Pradhan had not agreed.
Dr Pradhan now told that he would visit the farm soon to decide the course of action. Knowing his nature Dr Keskar sent Dayaram to a far off place to attend other work out of sight. So far so good.
Within thirty minutes Dr Pradhan accompanied by Dr Thakur arrived at the site. First Dr Pradhan and then Dr Thakur examined Kapila. The swelling of lymph nodes and high fever were enough to conclude the disease as the heifer shed also had wooden structure with cracks and crevices. Dr Thakur collected blood sample for lab examination to confirm it.
” It is unfortunate! I have no doubt this is Theileria, take it from me.” DrPradhan said.
” Sir, what should be line of treatment…. Let us do our best.” Dr Keskar said.
” Yes, let us take it as challenge. You will take care of her treatment. Give her Injections of dextrose saline as often as required, inject broad spectrum antibiotics and I suggest iron injections also to regenerate blood. Her RBC count must have dropped severely…we have to check it on daily basis. Take care that she eats well. Monitor her fever.” Dr Pradhan said.
” Sir, I suggest we give injections of quinine compounds… they have action against Theileria parasite I have read ” Dr Thakur said.
” Good point. Let us do that. And Dr Thakur, you will arrange to collect her blood sample daily and give results about RBC counts which will be a guiding factor that our treatment is in right direction.” Dr Pradhan said.
” Sir, I also have a suggestion. Our diagnosis, treatment, clinical record and lab reports ; all put together can make a good research paper. We can send it for publication. They say Theileria means no chance of survival in exotic or crossbreds .. so let us handle this systematically.. who knows… ?” Dr Thakur said.
” Yes. I agree, keep perfect records.” Dr Pradhan said while leaving.
As they left it was time for Dr Keskar to go in to action. He called Dayaram and gave complete briefing about the line of treatment and importance of writing observations on the Case Paper as it would be a record for future. Dr Keskar told that he will ensure presence when anything was injected and Dayaram was to feed Kapila from time to time and record her body temperature.
For next six days Dayaram had no other subject in his mind other than Kapila. He visited her shed several times a day. Three times a day he tried to forcibly put cattle feed in her mouth and also smeared jaggery on her tongue. Dr Keskar came and followed fixed timings to inject dextrose saline and antibiotics and Dayaram helped him. For injecting quinine compound and iron preparation they had different schedule. Of all the injections Dayaram knew that the iron injection was most painful. In addition to all these needle piercing, daily a technician came from lab to draw blood sample from Kapila’s jugular vein. Soon all this resulted in several punctures on her veins and muscles here and there.
In spite of all these efforts her responses started decreasing day by day which became a cause of worry. Initially she was showing liking for food by stretching her tongue out to lick the jaggery but after third day even that effort she was unable to make. When it was brought to the notice of Dr Thakur, he informed that the lab reports were good and same treatment may be continued. On the fourth day she was found very weak and could not even lift her head in upright position as she sat. When this was informed to Dr Thakur he maintained that the lab report was still good. But Kapila’s condition was looking bad. In that night Dayaram kept her covered with gunny bags to keep her warm.
In the morning when Dayaram went to her shed he found that Kapila was completely down lying on one side with her neck stretched. She had developed problem in breathing also. When Dr Keskar came he also felt that her condition was serious. When both of them were helping Kapila the lab technician came to collect her blood sample as a matter of routine. When he was about to start Dayaram could not resist his feelings.
“ Sir ” he addressed Dr Keskar, ” better not to take her blood now. She needs every drop of it.” He almost pleaded.
Dr Keskar agreed to have mercy on Kapila. He asked the technician not to take any sample. As he went back empty handed Dr Keskar had to be prepared to face the counter-reaction that was bound to follow. As expected, within half an hour Dr Keskar received a call that they should come for urgent meeting in Director’s cabin and bring all the details.
The Director’s office and the Diagnostic lab were located in a separate campus away from the farm. As they reached the office Dr Keskar asked Dayaram to remain seated outside with a brief that he should come inside only if called. When he went inside he found that Dr Pradhan was very much upset.
‘ What is this Keskar ? Why you have refused blood collection today I must know. ” He asked in raised voice that could be heard outside by Dayaram.
” Sir, her condition is pathetic, it is cruel to draw her blood …” Dr Keskar said.
” How that could be ? And since when you have become sentimental … I am receiving daily lab reports, they were encouraging.. where is the problem?” Dr Pradhan asked. As he said this Dr Pradhan entered the cabin with a register in his hand.
” Come on Dr Thakur, you have sent reports to me all these days. These people say her case is very serious. Where is the problem.. I must know. ” Dr Pradhan said.
” Sir, I have sent reports, and here is the lab register wherein we record observations and make calculations.” DrThakur said and placed his register on the table. Dr Pradhan opened it and turned the pages.
” Sir, you will see entries for calculation of red blood cells. We have used Hemocytometer’s central square .. from that large square we have taken the smaller central and four corner squares and thus covering 80 mini squares we have counted the actual red blood cells.” Dr Thakur said.
Dr Pradhan was glancing through those figures. He went through formula used for further calculation. The figure “N” was worked out well. But in further multiplication a factor was missing. For complete central square there was multiplication, for dilution there was multiplication but what about last factor ? To convert the number on cubic mm basis it was to be multiplied by .1 and that was missing !
” What is this ? I can’t believe ! Thakur, how this can happen ?” Dr Pradhan said.
As he pointed out the mistake, Dr Thakur rose from the chair to see it.
” You have not multiplied figure by one tenth. See, your figures are shown in million but they are actually in lakhs !! I am shocked.” Dr Pradhan said.
Dr Thakur glanced through page and realized the mistake. He felt hot. He took out handkerchief to wipe the sweat off his forehead. ” Sir, I feel extremely sorry. ” He said.
” And you have made it on all days. All throughout your RBC figures were in lakhs but you gave indication in millions.” Dr Pradhan concluded.
” Sir, mistakes do happen..” Dr Keskar said as he came to the rescue Dr Thakur.
” Now that this has happened your writing a paper is gone, I am more worried about that heifer now. Take care from now on.” Dr Pradhan said as he called off the meeting.
Both Dr Keskar and Dr Thakur rose from their chairs.
As they were about to come out of cabin Dr. Pradhan’ s voice was heard loudly.
” I will not tolerate such mistakes again everybody should know.”
Dayaram heard that last sentence clearly.
Without wasting time Dr Keskar and Dayaram returned to the farm. As they came towards heifer shed they found a few workers had gathered around Kapila. Without words it said something.
Kapila was no more.
Dayaram left that farm after couple of years’ of experience. Later on he returned to his village to become dairy farmer. He purchased liquid nitrogen containers to use frozen semen at his farm and also to provide Artificial Insemination and Animal Health service in surrounding villages. However, like anybody’s first love he has not forgotten the case of Kapila the first case in his life.