An indelible memory I have of another case of a spontaneous and instantaneous healing I myself saw happening to someone else, is a great testimony to the extraordinary healing power of food, when associated with comforting childhood memories:
An American Aurovilian I lived with for five years, who normally was in quite good health, one day fell ill for no known reason, and within a few days had to take to his bed and remain there because of his increasing weakness. I don’t remember if there were other symptoms, but all appetite had gone, so he was practically not eating anything, and the weakness kept increasing alarmingly. I myself never had had to take care of an ill person before, so I was doing what I could to help in the small ways at my disposal, but many of his friends kept coming to visit, bringing one medicine after the other that they were sure was going to help, but that didn’t have any effect whatsoever on the prostrate condition of the patient.
Things were becoming so bad as days kept passing without any improvement in my companion’s health, people were now entering his room on tiptoes and were speaking with me in the low voices you hear only in hospital rooms. I was indeed starting to consider calling a medical doctor, in spite of our shared reluctance to do so. I was prepared to wait only a few more days if it was going on like this.
And then one visitor came, who happened not to even know personally the ill person, she was just a passing guest, but as a fellow American from the same region, she had heard, as the patient, she had felt like cooking something for him, that she had brought along and was timidly offering: a special cake very appreciated in that region, but she wasn’t sure she should even propose it, as it was such a rich food, full of stuff no person in that almost dying condition should ever ingest.
Still, I sent her to the bedside of my poor companion, so that she herself could explain to him what exactly she had brought for him. As she spoke, I saw a faint smile grace his white, lifeless lips, and he thanked her with a grateful look from his half-closed eyes.
She left. I put the cake away into the safety of the cupboard, wondering if I shouldn’t eat it myself soon with the help of some other friends, so that something prepared with such good and loving intentions wouldn’t go wasted.
I was about to tiptoe out of the room to let my friend rest after this visit, when I heard his voice feebly calling, and I quickly went back towards his bed. I noticed his eyes had some tiny bit of light in them as I leaned and he whispered into my ear,
“Could I please have some of that cake she brought?”
I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. And then I hesitated too, before giving him the symbolic slim slice I hoped he would be able to keep in, so slim I hoped also it wouldn’t disturb too much his already exhausted organism.
As I helped him to half-sit, he gulped that tiny slice of cake in one single mouthful, and asked for more.
My mind in a daze, I complied.
He wolfed that second slice down just as quickly, and asked for more.
Quite alarmed now, I wanted to discuss with him, but he insisted quietly but firmly, so I again complied.
After a few more slices like this, sensing that something extraordinary was going on, I brought the whole cake to him on its plate, settling it down on a stool next to his bed so that he could take some whenever he felt like it, even if I happened not to be around at that moment.
About ten minutes later, I came back to check if he was still all right with all those pieces of cake he had eaten; I don’t remember for sure, but I might have been bringing a discrete small bucket to leave by his bedside too, just in case all this too rich food would already need to come right out again.
I couldn’t believe my eyes; there he was, sitting straight up in his bed against his propped up pillows, looking at me with the broadest grin on his beaming face. On the stool, the plate was empty. Scraped clean. Not the tiniest crumb of that big cake was left.
He chuckled softly:
“Bhaga, I’m feeling much better!”
I came closer, asking, my eyes wide with stupefaction:
“My goodness, what was in this cake, to have such a miraculous effect on you?!?”
He lowered his eyes, and after a short hesitation confessed, still smiling:
“Well, you know, this happened to be exactly the kind of cake my mom was baking for me at home when I was a kid. When that girl told me this was the kind of cake she had brought, I knew at once that I had to try it. And for the first time in days I felt slightly hungry, just to think of that cake, so that was the sign that my body too wanted it! And yes, it was just as my mom was doing it, perfect… Oh, you can’t imagine how much I enjoyed eating that kind of cake again!!! And the more I ate of it, the better I felt, so I kept eating! I think it did me real good, I feel almost normal now, actually, like I could even walk!”
And there goes indeed my half-dead patient, scrambling to his feet and standing unaided, while I was the one gaping and about to swoon at this astonishing sight!…
Do I need to tell that there was no relapse?
From that blessed day on, my friend’s health returned as mysteriously as it had faded away before.
I strongly suspect it was a case of intense home-sickness after all those hard years in Auroville, far away from one’s culture and everything that made up one’s life previously. But if that is a more potent factor than one would imagine, a factor quite capable of bringing down an adult unaware of or unwilling to admit his own deep feelings of emotional distress, too easily dismissed as childish and irrelevant, the magical cure of the mysterious disease revealed in this case unmistakably what the problem, childish or not, had been all along, and proved that sometimes the richest of foods can be not only totally innocuous to a patient, but become the very saving grace for him or her… if that food happens to be one of the patient’s favorite ones from childhood days and mom’s own cooking!…
Shall I mention my private weakness sometimes for some specific very French foods, like for example sandwiches ‘jambon-beurre’ – made with a French ‘baguette’ of course…! My friends returning from France know also that some simple ‘saucissons secs’ are the best treat they can bring back for me… that is, if they cannot afford ‘le top du top’: a small tin of real ‘foie gras’…!
And then, for the ‘me’ from another lifetime, there is also the couscous, characteristic very ancient traditional Berber food that the Berber in me craves from time to time too!!! So much so, that I had to write a whole post some time ago about those ‘Berber cravings’ in this present non-Berber lifetime…
Or if it is still something else my body needs, that I don’t think myself of taking in, my body has found an amusing way of letting me know: it sends me an image of what it wants! Suddenly in my vacant mind comes floating the image of mashed potatoes, for instance… Or it is directly the taste of the needed item that my body puts on my taste-buds; or the aroma of that food is suddenly there in my nostrils, although none of it is physically present; then I know what I am asked to do, and just like with my sick friend whose body knew it wanted me to give it that cake, I don’t argue: I just comply!!!
Food is such a fundamental part of our being’s make-up, physically for sure but emotionally as well if not more, we have to acknowledge the place it has in our lives. Even the android Data, in the very same episode of Star Trek TNG, ‘Deja Q’, mentioned in my previous post, has observed how for example the ship’s Counselor, the empath from Betazed, Deanna Troi, whenever upset, will tend to go for ‘something chocolate’!… He also observed that it does have wonderful results, and he is right: anything that will improve our sense of enjoyment will automatically improve our health too – as long as it is not some addictive substance that disturbs the natural functioning of the body and makes it dependant of its use, however negative its effects might be for the body.
Conversely, even the best food in the world nutritionally speaking will not profit much to the body if it is eaten only because we are being forced to eat it.
Or it might be like what happened to Q, feeling hungry for the first time of his life as he is now a mere Human: assuming he is probably very hungry from never having eaten before, and following Data’s advice regarding chocolate as a mood regulator, as his mood was dreadful he has ordered ten chocolate sundaes, but when the two full trays are finally brought to their table, he is disgruntled from some additional bad news that have just come, and he realizes he is not hungry any more!!!
In most cases, once again, we see it all comes down to the simple state of well-being we usually call ‘happiness’…
And an additional benefit, literally, that should be mentioned too: health in that way, instead of having to be secured at the cost of ever more money, will become on the contrary a wonderful money-saver!