Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The damnedest cold man ever caught

I have a cold. A very bad cold. As I walk up to my office on Delhi's Barakhamba Road, I see a man blissfully asleep on the sidewalk.

My nose is very very red. His isn't.

I don't usually feel like switching places with sleeping vagrants but today I wished I was lying spread-eagled there, dreaming of God-knows-what but dreaming nevertheless.

I had slept little the previous night, sniffling and coughing in what seemed like a tic-tac-toe contest between my nose and my mouth. My nose won.

And when the alarm rang this morning, my body said to me -- "Hey dude! There's no way you are getting out of bed."

But I had to. I had taken a day off on Friday, hoping to recover fully over the weekend. And here I was on Monday, still clutching my sore throat and dripping mucus all over a soggy handkerchief.

You know what hurts most. When a woman catches a cold, notice how everyone is nice to her.

"Go home to your nest,
My remedy is the best,
Two teaspoons of honey,
Steaming tea, plenty of rest,
And wake up bright and sunny."

As a man, I am supposed to possess stoicism in Spartan proportions.

"Get over it, do you see X complaining?
He broke his wrist and he's not squealing."

No one really understands -- until they catch a cold themselves. Wait a minute. That's a good idea. I can infect someone and smile a wry smile when they run out of tissues.

But then it's just microbes on the rampage. A week later, they will tire and move on to the next victim. Life comes full circle and I may be infected again.

I wish someone could find a cure for the common cold. What good is a Nobel Prize if you can't rid mankind of this wretched malady.

Go Mr Scientist, go seek nirvana among your stem cells and cloned canines. I love dogs but what good is a hairy poodle to me? Especially when I bury my nose in a handkerchief and can't play fetch with the puppy.

To sneeze or not to sneeze? That is the question. When the boss is speaking on the other line, there you are, staring at the tip of your snout, waiting for the inevitable -- Atichoo!

The deed is done. No one cares.

No one ever cared, except for Ogden Nash in The Common Cold
...
By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever's hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

...
Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

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