Today I read in the New Vision that Dr Mukhtar Ahmad has passed on. Today is the first time in years that I think about him. When I last visited his clinic in 2000, a young doctor was now the lead doctor at the clinic. It did not feel the same. His clinic was based on Entebbe Road which was our family stop for when we had malaria in the 80s.
The clinic walls were covered with black glossy tiles and you could see the dancing shapes of cars driving on Entebbe Road. When you climbed up the terrazzo steps, you stepped into a large waiting room with a wooden floor. The waiting chairs lined along the large windows were wooden with brown or was it maroon leather cushioning? Sometimes the sun struck you directly through the windows and if you were really sick, you moved away looking for a shade and waited for your turn to be called as the medical stuff bustled back and forth.
Those were the days when Chloroquine was the main drug for treating malaria. And because the tablets were big (not chocolate coated like the ones today) for a little child to swallow, my mother would first crash it on a teaspoon and pour on water and make me drink it. I can still feel the bitter aftertaste on my tongue before I would reach out for the teaspoon of sugar which she held in her other hand to counteract the bitter taste. As a child, I feared the clinic because I feared the injection. I would flay my hands and legs, added with a shrill voice to show my resistance to the dreaded injection but I always lost in the end.
The one memory that stands out in my mind is during a visit to his clinic, when he came to take my temperature and place the stethoscope on my chest, I moved away. He asked me what was wrong, I said I did not want the injection. He asked me if he could give me sweets. I said I wanted five sweets. He gave me this round pink tablet-like looking sweet, which when you put on the tongue melted as you sucked away at it. It took my mind off the fear of the injection that awaited me. I remember Dr Ahmad as the doctor who made the terrifying clinic experience for a little child less dreadful. May he rest in peace.