Health wise, being a kid in the sixties was no fun. Diarrhea were common. I personally had several embarrassing episodes to tell, when I was a few steps short of the toilet. When I was twelve, there was a picture of me, a frail shortie, a mere four footer. When we were in primary schools, there were many of us with bulging tummies. We were carriers of the parasitic pin worms , kerawit, and the round worms, the cacng gelang.
Almost all of us had only that pair of shoes, the one we went to school with. There were many who prefer to go bare footed, kaki ayam way. Even when we were in the classroom, we would take our shoes off. A few would rather have their shoes hanging around their neck when taking the long walk home.
When we play football we make the shoes our goal posts.
It could not be the vegetables that caused our infection. We never, had any town veges, sayur bandar, because we had our own supply of turi, cekur manis and belinjau, all around the house. We knew that the sayur bandar, usually grown by the apeks, at the town fringes were infected by the use of the night soil to enhance growth.
It was the unhygeinic toilets and the water supply that were the culprit. The first time we had a proper toilet and the first time we had piped water were special days.
We knew when we got infected. It was more a case of being continuously infected and knowing that the colonies were getting out of control. Especially after dinner, you would fell itchiness up your, you know what. Sometimes it was so bad that you felt something wriggly, and there it was a round worm trying to migrate.
The perfect deworming concoction was lempuyang. It was so bitter that nenek would not dispense it to me. The common solution was this deworming solution, a sweet deep red solution, you buy from the sundry shop at eighty sen a bottle. The brand name was RIDTO.
The day after consuming RIDTO would be a day to look forward to. Presto!! You would see the whitish colony being discharged.
When we had our ubi kayu rebus, with salted or sugared grated coconut, someone would always remind us “jangan makan kelapa banyak sanagat, nanti jadi kerawit”.
It was off course utter folly that the grated coconut will transform into kerawits. I must admit, that they do look like the grated coconut that accompany the putu piring.
Sometimes it would be the round worms, each measuring 10 cm. No wonder we had bulging tummies.
Public health only improved after we had piped water, have a proper toilet and the kampung clinic was opened.