Dhobi tried every medication sold in the local dispensary to get rid of itchy scalp: Ayurvedic preparations, homeopathic concoctions, castor oil, linseed oil, mustard powder. He tried yogic exercises such as standing on his head for ten minutes three times a day. When his hair started to fall out he had a good excuse to visit the local herb doctor. But even the doctor couldn’t stop that exasperating itch.
“Dandruff! It must be dandruff,” the doctor concluded, handing Dhobi yet another gooey cream rinse.
Dhobi dutifully took the bottle down to the river and bathed in the usual way, following up with applying the rinse to his hair. It was so slimy, however, he had trouble rinsing the lotion out of his hair. River silt clung to the strands. He had to buy a large-toothed comb to ply his way through the mess.
Then Dhobi made a startling discovery. Ambling down between the teeth of the comb was a large chunk of dandruff. Dhobi looked closer.
“Ah-ha!” he exclaimed. “Head lice! I should have known.”
A special lice treatment was available in the bazaar. For twenty-five paisa Dhobi could rent a monkey on a leash. The monkey meticulously picked through Dhobi’s scalp singling out the vermin and expertly popped them into his mouth. With smacking lips, the monkey scrunched the lice between his teeth like pomegranate seeds, juice squirting all over.
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