Corona- A Placebo

By Fr. Ayar Kujur S.J.

The elders of Tipling village claimed a medicine for corona virus in the very beginning of the pandemic. They were so confirmed that the pandemic won’t touch them anyway and it is God’s providence or the herbal medicine has protected us till now. I have never heard of it few years ago. Sons of the soil have been using it now and then. Due to pandemic it has become popular now. Jesuits Fathers are highly recommended to drink Cumsing (the name of the tree in Tamang language) tea daily.

The corona virus had been known at least by its name all over the world by the end of March. Gossip of people in the tea time was all about the devastating effect of Covid-19. The pastoral visits to families continued dilly dully one street to another. People seemed more faithful to the prayer in a small group of neighbouring families.

One day, I went to Mr. Lal’s house a faithful catholic. He was eager to know about corona virus news since I get news from television. Often, I share news about corona virus and its safety measure to be followed. This time the family conversations included the cause, transmission of the virus and solution to be safe from the virus. Lal’s family and I were sitting in his courtyard with a cup of tea (Cumsing Tea). The taste of the tea was strange for me, though I liked it. Then he asked me, “Did you recognise the taste?” My reply was instantly no, he and his family laughed at this for a while. The conversation continued, he narrated an event that occurred around fifty years ago. There was pandemic in which around fifty children died with somehow similar symptoms except two or three. The medicine used at that time was this he said; in the Tamang language it is called Cumsing. It has got very pleasant fragrance while boiling. The water turns a little red at first and then in later use the water remains plane but the taste and fragrance fill the kitchen.

He offered a piece of wood, assuring me of being free from corona virus. I was excited about it. I told Fr. Mike and Sch. Pankaj about the evening visit and Cumsing tea. They too did not believe, saying that there is no any scientific base to this. Anyway all of us tasted it and said it has got good flavour. Later, it became the flavour of the tea in the Tipling Jesuit community. This drink is a bit good for the cold and cough in my experience. People of Tipling seemed to be so confident of this herbal medicine that people passing by our kitchen, keep on asking us whether we have Cumsing or not. If the answer is no, by the evening we get a piece of Cumsing wood. Placebo effect continues to keep us happy in the midst of fear and doubt.