28 January 2014

The Fishbone and the Magical Hand of the Suhî


Enjoying your breakfast of fried eggs, fried rice and hawot when, all of a sudden, you feel something stuck down your throat? Chances are that the pointed end of a teeny-weeny bit of hawot bone lodged itself in your throat and is causing your discomfort.

In the old days and a worst-case scenario of you having to go to the doctor to have the bone tweezed out, well you did not – repeat, NOT – tell the doctor that it was a piece of hawot bone the he would have to extricate from your throat.

You lifted your nose and sniffed in a brisk dose of air as was the proper way of the snob; and told the doctor that the bone belonged to at least a bit of galunggong or tulingan. Biyâ if you wanted to push your luck.

Por Dios! But the hawot was just so… poor!!!


In other words, I always thought of this as nothing but a silly superstition! On the other hand, what do I really know? Maybe the suhî in your own neighbourhood will prove me wrong.
And you did not want to have the entire neighbourhood laughing behind your back because a piece of hawot bone cost you a trip to the hospital. And not that you even fooled the doctor…

A trip to the doctor, of course, is always a worst-case scenario for the fish bone in the throat. In most cases, a drink of water will dislodge the bone.

If the water does not work, they say a bite of banana will also do the trick. Elders used to say that the other end of the fish bone would stick into the banana and remove it from the throat.

If the banana still did not work and one was too squeamish to poke a finger down one’s throat in desperation, then the elders started looking around the neighbourhood for the resident suhî.

Su-what???!!! I can almost hear the complaint from the younger generations.

The suhî is a person born in what is called a breech birth; i.e. feet first as opposed to the normal birth when the head of the baby comes out first.

I hardly hear the word suhî used these days; and that is probably because most breech babies in the present day are delivered by caesarean section. While vaginal delivery of the breech baby is possible – and thus the suhî of the old days – it is also considered riskier.

So, on now to the alleged mystical power of the suhî! In the old days, the suhî was believed to have an almost magical capability to dislodge fishbone simply by massaging the throat of its victim.

How this belief came to be, I do not have the foggiest; albeit, there were those who swore that this was true.

I might have seen one or two occasions when the suhî worked his magic and it REALLY worked. That said, I might also have seen one or two occasions when it did NOT work.

Personally, I think that it was always a matter of luck; and that the fishbone would have dislodged itself, anyway. I never could convince myself that there was ever a difference in the way with which a suhî stroked the throat and how a person born head first did.

Or if the stroking worked at all! Perhaps, the fishbone was just ready to come off the throat, who knows?

In other words, I always thought of this as nothing but a silly superstition! On the other hand, what do I really know? Maybe the suhî in your own neighbourhood will prove me wrong.

That is, if you can still find one!

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