Ever had to deal with a dental block?

Ever had to deal with a dental block?

Musings on everyday life

By Suresh Pattali

Published: Fri 23 Aug 2019, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Fri 23 Aug 2019, 2:00 AM

My curse upon your venom'd stang,
That shoots my tortur'd gums alang;
And thro' my lugs gies mony a twang,
Wi' gnawing vengeance;
Tearing my nerves wi' bitter pang,
Like racking engines!
If you find this 1786 poem by Robert Burns funny, I beg your pardon - I thought you could feel the agony dripping from his words. Here's a man writhing in despair as a horrific toothache pierced his chest.
Because some tortures are physical and some are mental,
But the one that is both is dental.
It is hard to be self-possessed
With your jaw digging into your chest.
And if you find this 1941 poem by Ogden Nash still funny, I know for sure you ain't sensitive to the worst catastrophe to befall humanity. Here's another man struggling to keep his calm in a dentist's chair despite a nerve-racking experience. There were even writers who said watching the burning of slaves at the stake would be less agonising than suffering a toothache. The point is the times these guys had lived in let them indulge in infinite creative freedom and they were able to vent their feelings without inhibition.
Times have changed. Radical forces have throttled creativity. We now live in a world where even dictionaries get banned. I could be lynched if I write my toothache is more tormenting than the Syrian war or the apocalyptic Kerala floods. Political poisoning has created a society that's susceptible to intolerance.
That's the pathetic predicament I found myself in a few days ago. It hurt so much when the last standing knights between the jaws cracked and there was no one to empathise. I could barely sleep, eat, drink, or think, let alone write my column, when pain struck a rotten tooth like a lightning bolt. When I complained to colleagues, it was deemed as an excuse to take leave. When I called my dentist-daughter in India in the dead of night, she called me a crybaby.
"Pop some analgesic and see a dentist tomorrow morning. I'm helpless now, dad." She hung up. I've had my fair share of pains in life, including the death of my parents, losing close friends to ailments and political violence, etc, but nothing's as excruciating as the molar pain. It hacks at the pride of mankind.
Returning from the office past midnight, I didn't expect wifey to be awake, so pushed open the kitchen door to find a large burger safe-kept in a glass bowl. The message seemed to be clear: help yourself, good night. I was lost between heaven and hell. On the one hand was my desire to have some cold kanji (porridge) to bypass the sick tooth, and on the other was an alluring Big Bite. Trying to wake up wifey would have been like flogging a dead horse. I tried to nimble at the Everest of meat. A couple of precarious bites here and there were all I could manage. I gave up and groped in the bedroom looking for Brufen.
"The least a dental patient expects is some cold kanji," I mumbled as I rummaged the medicine cabinet.
"There's kanji in the fridge. No one is asking you to cook, but at least open the fridge and look inside." She woke up to my tantrums.
I returned to the living room and switched on the TV to watch the Indian flood situation. As the radiating pain pounded my brain, I thought to myself, "How could a wife sleep through her better half's nightmare?" My thoughts were louder than the television volume.
"What's your problem?" She towered over my crumbled figure in the couch. "Stop being an attention seeker. Take a Brufen and go to sleep. We'll see Dr Rahna in the morning."
"It's molar pain, do you know that?"
She grabbed the remote and changed to news channels that unleashed touching footage of mudslides in India.
"There are an estimated 50 people buried under that wide swath of mud. The men working with the JCBs are not mining gold; they are in the last-ditch attempt to find some lives, or at least bodies. You know the pain they endure? Think of the anguish the villagers go through? Look at the reporter breaking down on camera. That's the pain me and thousands of other Indians share today." She gasped for breath before continuing.
"You wouldn't be cribbing like this if you had come in when my gynecologist at Latifa Hospital invited you into the labour room." She turned on her heel and walked back to the bedroom. Some time later, when I was sliding into sleep, she woke me up with a shade of mischief on her face.
"Happy Friendship Day!" she said, holding a couple of polo shirts gift-wrapped in blue. Pain melted in my mouth.

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