CHENNAI: Narasamma’s miraculous power are so effective that she is able to remove kidney stones by rubbing a mixture on the back of the patient.
She takes out a half-cut lemon, dips it in a mixture of butter, turmeric and kumkum powder and rubs it on the lower back of the patient, who are in pain due to kidney stones. While reciting the mantras she pulls out a piece of the newspaper she had placed under the patient and shows ‘kidney stones’ that have fallen out.
After sprinkling kumkum on the ‘kidney stones’, she wraps up the newspaper and hands it over to the person accompanying the patient.
She lives in a village of Amudala on the Andhra-Tamil Nadu border in Chittoor district. She charges a nominal fee of `250, excluding pooja materials and parking charges.
An Indian Express journalist who did not have any kidney stone condition, went to get treated by her. Narasamma was even able to get the stones removed from his kidneys. When the kumkum sprinkled stones were washed, they were only pebbles.
“We are from Hyderabad. I actually took my daughter to a hospital first, then, my brother told me about Narasamma and I brought her here,” says Kishan Reddy, whose 15-year-old daughter is ill.
When asking for directions to Amudala, a local resident told the Express team: “Kallu edukka vanthurukkeengala? (Have you come to remove the stones?)” From auto drivers to shopkeepers, everyone recognises the village. While some are sceptical of Narasamma’s methods, those that visit her every day, in hope of a miraculous and cheap cure, bear testament to her fame.
“She is very tired since she had been treating patients continuously since the morning and taking rest. So you all must wait, please,” says a stern-voiced assistant. She can indeed get tired. Around 15 patients wait forher in her house on a sunny afternoon. On the verandah’s wall is painted: ‘KIDNEY STONES. Narasamma. Cell: 80089 98308. Amudala. Time: 7 am to 1 pm. 2 pm to 4 pm.’
On any given day, at least 30 to 40 people visit her. It is said the crowd crosses the 100 mark on weekends. “We are from Chengalpattu,” says Ramalingam, who has been visiting Narasamma for the last five years. Although he says he hasn’t been cured, he has brought seven women from his locality for treatment.
The first thing that matters to Narasamma is if everyone has paid the fee. She counts the notes twice over, rechecks the head count and tells one patient he hasn’t paid. Subsequently, she places the amount beneath her.
Patients are asked to lift the clothes a little so that she can touch their backs and start the ‘operation’. As people gaze to see how the stones are extracted, her assistants shout at people who are either blocking the way or not properly seated. As the attention gets diverted for a few moments, Narasamma declares the work as accomplished.
After all the patients in the session are ‘cured’, Narasamma proclaims to the crowd: “You must eat banana on reaching home. And please drink this theertham before leaving. No non-vegetarian food, no alcohol, no smoking, drink a tumbler of banana stem juice in the morning and evening for one month. You should not take any X-ray for a month. If you still have a problem afterwards, come back and I will give you special treatment.”
She places burning camphor on her hand and gestures while circling the crowd of patients. The crowd calmly disperses, believing they’ve been cured.
In traditional medicine like Siddha, it helps dissolve kidney stones. “No doubt that banana stem juice is good for kidney stones. But it cannot be prescribed blindly since the treatment varies depending on stone size and its placement,” says a senior doctor at the Arignar Anna Government Hospital of Indian Medicine.