Ill enough for you

Published: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Thu 31 Oct 2019, 9:31 PM

Isn't it terrible when you are fine one evening and then you get up with the mercury rising and a body ache and a sense of ill feeling and you wish you could just turn the page on the day and go away cruel world? How could this happen, I was fine last night? Then you stagger out of bed and look in the mirror and this red-eyed phantom looks back at you and you then blearily call the office and tell them how 'tellible' you are feeling with a dutiful hacking cough and sniffles to provide evidence of the condition.
Then the first thing family members engage in is that bizarre game of who gave it to you. As if you can do something about it. Was it that guy in office, the friend at the party, the man on the plane sitting next to you? And everyone then tells you three things. You've heard them so often you could recite them from memory but you have to listen anyway. It is the season, it is going around, everyone has it. No, they don't. I have it. Sure, and this nugget of knowledge is a great help, thank you very much.
Have chicken soup and inhale vapours. I need you to tell me that.
My cousin had it, takes three or five or seven or nine days to break, always an odd number. I needed to know this, tick off the days now.
And then there are cures. At least it attracts solutions from hot soup to inhaling steam and all that stuff. There are grandmother cures, village cures, traditional family cures, gunk in leaves with these poultices wrapped around you and misery riding high.
Have you noticed that a common cold garners more sympathy? That is one of the remarkable things about medical science. It is true. There are some ailments that get you no sympathy. Take migraine. It is one of those awful afflictions that leave you hating the world but all everyone can say is, cheer up. Cheer up, cheer up, you want to curl up and close out even a sliver of light and they want you to go ho, ho, ho.
See, if you don't suffer from it, others cannot understand. Take a backache. It is agony wrapped in helplessness but say you have a backache and no one even stops in their conversation. After all, it is just a backache. No, it is not just a backache, it is flipping driving round the bend. You get a spondylitis attack and you want to curl up and die and people are saying, oh come on, let's take you for a drive, you will feel better. What's wrong with you? You think a drive will help me feel good when my neck is exploding off my shoulders.
Earaches and toothaches are in the same category. You can be ready to kill and you get advice or admonishment. uh oh, eating too many chocolates. The sufferer needs this scolding when distress is peaking.
A tennis elbow can be sheer torture. Take rest, they say. Don't say anything, it is smarter. But tell anyone your kidney stones are bothering you and they'll start discussing the latest hit movie.
A friend of ours has sciatica. She writhes in pain and all she gets is, maybe you should exercise more.
Allergies are sheer torment. And since no one knows what to do, they think it is semi-funny. Haha, here comes another joke into your swollen face and teary eyes.
Vertigo, frozen shoulders, rheumatism, gout, they all fall into this category. If you are not bleeding and don't have fever, you might get tea but no sympathy.
The one common element in all these problems is that they attract superfluous advice.
Like cheer up. Cheer up, like it was a commodity lying in a jar and you opened the lid and took it out.
If they are not cheering you up, they say things like take a brisk walk. A what? A brisk walk when I want to kill in agony.
Friends are the worst. They share scary stories of people you do not know, who got sick and then even though it was flu, they keeled over suddenly, who would've thought. That is just the sort of helpful information when you are sick as a dog, certain to make you feel better.
But the worst are colleagues who, in their clumsy attempt to make you feel better will 'regale' you with office politics and make you feel so much worse because now with a blocked nose, you have to worry about a blocked career. And it is only day three.

By Bikram Vohra

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