The diamond and the cucumber | chandigarh | Hindustan Times
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The diamond and the cucumber

chandigarh Updated: Oct 03, 2012 11:28 IST

Before Partition, there was only one dental college in Punjab, at Lahore It was de'Montmorency College of Dentistry, named after a Punjab governor and 1900-batch Indian Civil Service (ICS) officer, Sir Geoffrey de Montmorency.

It was in October 1946 that the biannual conference of kings and chiefs of princely states of Punjab was held at Lahore. Then governor Sir Ivan Jenkins presided over the event. Among the participants was Nawab Al-Haj Sir Sadiq Mohammad Khan Abbassi Bahadur, ruler of Bahawalpur, then largest state of Punjab.

One evening, during a grand state dinner hosted by the governor, the nawab started having a severe toothache. He was in so much pain that he requested the governor to get him treated at a dental hospital as an emergency case. The governor deputed his aide-de-camp (ADC) and the nawab was rushed to the de'Montmorency college.

The dental college had only one doctor on duty and he was requested to immediately attend to the nawab. Dr Manchanda, with more than 10 years of service, examined the royal patient. He found that the nawab had dental caries and carious exposure; immediate extraction of two of his teeth was required, for which local anaesthesia had to be given.

The nawab refused local anaesthesia as he had been warned by his astrologer that once such medicines went inside his body, he would collapse and die. Dr Manchanda, however, expressed his inability to do the extraction without anaesthesia. The nawab and the doctor stuck to their respective stands. When the governor was informed, he directed the doctor on the phone to convince the nawab by making one or two extractions on other patients in his (nawab's) presence.

The nawab deputed one of his 'khidmatgaars', Kheera Khan.
Dr Manchanda was perplexed as he faced one of the most difficult tests of his career he was being forced to do an extraction on a patient who had no tooth problem. Kheera Khan was very nervous and on the brink of tears. When the doctor started extracting his tooth after administering anaesthesia with trembling hands, Kheera started a no-holds-barred crying drill.

Suddenly, the nawab stood up and gave a strong kick on Dr Manchanda's buttocks. Before the doctor could realise what had happened, a strong slap was unleashed on his cheek. Before walking out, the nawab said loudly, "Tu kheere da dand nahin kad sakya, heere da kithhon kadenga" (You couldn't pull out the tooth of a 'cucumber', how can you extract that of a diamond?). Little did the doctor know that the nawab's mother used to call him a 'heera' (diamond).