Doc with a simple magic cure
Dr. B.D.J. De Silva
On June 9, the uncrowned King of Maharagama and her greatest citizen passed away peacefully. Having known him for over 50 years first as a patient and then as a friend, it is my privilege to put on record some facts about the life and times of Dr. B.D.J.De Silva or Dr. Silva of Maharagama or Pat to his friends.
In my 65 years, 40 of which were in the UK, I have not known another physician whose diagnostic skills are as good as our Dr Silva’s.
Not only was he spot-on in his diagnosis or perhaps because of it, his prescription of antibiotics and other drugs was minimal. His mixture and powder which cost just Rs.3 in the late fifties cured every ailment like magic. I have a sneaky suspicion that quite often they were placebos.
My earliest recollections of Dr. Silva in Maharagama was him riding a horse in town and on another occasion reversing his light green Hillman Minx car from the surgery to his home which was a fair distance away! Yes, he did have style right from the beginning.
Dr. Silva treated my grandfather, my father, myself and my son. Could this be a record to have treated four generations of the same family?
My grandfather who died aged 93 was fond of Dr. Silva who addressed him as Seeya. I remember him visiting Seeya at home when he was seriously unwell and he had a big hand in keeping him alive to a ripe old age. The same comments go for my father who died at age 94.
My sisters and myself rushed to Dr Silva’s surgery for the slightest problem. On one such occasion my sister supposedly had a broken sewing needle tip circulating in her blood stream. The good doctor laughed her out of the surgery asking whether her needle had a motor fixed to it? As a teenager I had to leave school early on a regular basis suffering from double vision and a severe headache. Dr. Silva treated me with a phenobarbitone tablet and in a few months the problem vanished.
Once on holiday from the UK I was wheezy and had difficulty breathing at night. Dr Silva asked me not to bathe after mid-day and gave me a white tablet to take. True to form I was cured and I asked the doctor for the name of the tablet for possible future use. He said he cannot remember! Now I am sure it was a placebo.
“I say, you are a funny man. You do meditation in England and drink whisky when in Sri Lanka,” reprimanded Dr. Silva on another occasion. My sister of the circulating needle fame had boasted to Dr. Silva how I had a few drinks with my three brothers-in-law at her place when on holiday in Sri Lanka. The good doctor also remembered that I had taken up meditation when he visited me in England. I had no answer but silently cursed my sister.
Another outstanding feature of Dr. Silva’s practice was anybody could see him at home day and night. Thanks to the JVP gundas who tried to shoot him at home he had to abandon this practice.
I am sure Dr. Silva could not have served his patients for so many years with such dedication if not for the support of his beloved wife Doreen. Towards the end she sat by him all the time holding his hand. So Doreen this tribute is very much yours as well.