Wow… the kind of extreme lifestyles we so copiously cope with, makes me chuckle. It amazes me how we revel in our corrupt eating, drinking and sleeping patterns at sundowners; and on waking up from these orgies are only talking about millets, nachani, detox waters, organic crops and cold pressed juices. We have quite cleverly divided our day and night food and beverage consumption in two contrast categories. Despite the ingenious cleverness of our double standard degenerative lifestyle, the body is body, and it falls prey to all sorts of minor and major maladies and diseases.
However, my motive in writing this piece is not about trashing our lifestyle. I am neither endorsing it, detracting it nor moral policing it. My interest here is to understand the plight of an ill body and more so the mind that is housed inside it. Yes, being ill even for the shortest span can make you thoughtful and caring even if temporarily. I just recovered from a severe throat infection, where you find thorns pricking the inside of your oesophagus on a non-stop basis. Swallowing water is painful and it doesn’t pass down through the congested, constricted, inflamed, phlegm coated, throat passage. And the accompanying fever, that comes and goes like some uninvited guests in an Indian summer household, leaves your body pretty wasted and inert. This condition bound me to the bed for four whole days and I felt so trapped, bored and insufficient.
Now when you are ill, not necessarily with any life threatening or depressing diseases, just the regular ones, you still like or rather enjoy the care and kindness coming your way. The pampering of everyone checking on you, cajoling you to eat or drink whatever you wish like, making sure you are comfortable and so forth is pleasurable. Everybody does enjoy the sympathetic affection. And the ones who show little concern aren’t particularly grudged or disliked or embittered, just that this little blip of thought makes its way to your head, ‘he/she didn’t even bother to check if I was feeling any better”. Now this is such a natural thought to spring, nothing to be embarrassed to admit. However, if such thoughts don’t bother you, you are blessed with a Zen like detachment which is good for you. But most of us aren’t so it will be relevant to read on further.
Now while enjoying and appreciating all the care, concern and kindness lavished upon you, it’s good to register this for your future reference. When you need to tend to and care for someone else, it will come in handy. It’s simple to follow the logic, when I enjoy and value the care of others, so does the other. And so next time around my care and compassion towards the other might be more heartfelt and genuine than duty bound. Your personal suffering invokes empathy towards other’s suffering. You do not belittle other’s pain no matter how routine or bearable it seems to you otherwise. Four days lying around in sickness, where I was still pretty mobile with the paracetamols but physically drained and mentally static, made me wonder about the plight of those with long standing illnesses.
A short illness when leaves us so drab and docile, you can imagine what it does when it becomes a time barred tenant. This sculpture of body, we so fancy and fret about, starts disintegrating day after day, the stores of energy just vaporising, the keenness of the mind simply going numb, and the buds of taste turning awry. Living life is a daily struggle, and there is little hope for recovery or cheer in the following day. It is immensely punishing to sustain a deteriorating and dependent life, irritability and resignation being its most natural outcome. And it is equally demanding on those taking care because we are mortals after all who exhaust on the reservoirs of strength, patience and compassion. It takes a mental and physical toll to deal with another’s illness and the paraphernalia. But just when you remember that your simple headache even for an hour can be so discomforting, it gives you the empathy for gentle tending for another day. You are a more willing and comforting attendant.
However, I realized something quite intriguing about falling ill. It has a funny bearing on your imagination which makes you ask what if this isn’t just the usual fever and something terrible. What if the persistent headache is the result of not mere heat but some blood clot? You conjure the disease imagining the impact it will have on your loved ones. How would they react to your, if not going away, to your sad crippled state? It is extremely self-gratifying to know that your presence and then your absence might affect your family, loved ones, companion or lover profoundly.
I know it sounds creepy, not hypochondriac types, but kind of self-obsessed ghoulish thinking. You don’t want it as a manifested reality, but you are tempted to imagine out the possibility of your sudden health collapse and its impact on others. Macabre as it sounds, the waves of sympathy, nurture, care, love that would erupt in quick successions indulges your ego greatly. And embarrassing at it sounds, deep down I guess we have had such sinister thoughts sometime or the other. It is amazing how even as adults we seek phenomenal attention from others, and it so salivates our sense of self-worth. The need for feeling important and special is so strong and innate within us that we might participate in such morbid imaginations.
But an unhealthy body is one of the most depressing and cumbersome things to live with. So, while you may imagine or un-imagine anything in your debilitating health, become, but you really don’t want to wish yourself or others illness. A healthy body is so pleasurable in every sense of the word that it totally makes sense to preserve it and pray for its wellbeing.