Recently I got sick – nothing really alarming, just a touch of flu, and that too of the mere human variety (some of my friends will see poetic justice in this – swine getting human flu). But it again made me realize that I’m sitting on the wrong side of the table in my clinic.
After taking everything into consideration, the benefits of being sick far outweigh the disadvantages. Feel like scoffing? Then let me take you through my sick day.
I woke up and felt dead-weights pinning me down onto the bed. The twittering of the birds outside seemed nearly as irritating as Shashi Tharoor’s tweets. I looked outside my window and felt like punching the smile off the sun’s face. Then I realized that overnight my nose had become the inexhaustible font of brine water. Being the greatest doctor on earth (in my own humble opinion), I immediately diagnosed myself as suffering from a viral flu.
With a thrill of pure pleasure, I realized that I need not go to work today. I dialed my Chief’s phone, and was actually relishing the prospect of talking to him today.
“Good morning doctoratlarge!” I could hear his wife doing Baba Ramdev’s prescription lung exercises in the background. She must be setting off a positive gust on his side of the globe.
“Not at all, sir.” I replied, in hollow tones.
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” He said, “the sensex has gone down again today.” The miserable philistine could think of nothing but money.
“And I’m down too.” By now my tone had become cadaverous.
“Novices often get prostrated on the first downturn. Been a little rash, eh?”
“No, I don’t have a rash yet, but everything else I do have.”
“What the hell are you gibbering about?” The blithering idiot, he never does understand straight talk. I decided to stoop to his intellectual level.
“I mean, I have fever, bodyache and running nose. They are the signs of flu, F for fool, L for lycopodium, U for uxorious.”
“Oh, I know how to spell flu,” maybe there was hope for him after all, “but I know a conscientious and industrious person like you will not make that an excuse for work-absenteeism.”
“Certainly not sir. Of course it would be better for me to sleep the whole day in the air-conditioned doctor’s duty room of the hospital rather than wasting electricity at home.”
He collected his wooly thoughts a while, and said:
“I certainly appreciate your zeal and enthusiasm, but there is a concept called too much of a good thing, you know. So, I think it would be better if you took the day off.”
One can drive a bit of sense into my Chief’s head sometimes, but only if one uses a sledgehammer.
The Chief being disposed of, I proceeded to inform my wife of my pitiable state of health.
“Really?” She remarked. She has this annoying habit of doubting the veracity of my most matter-of-fact statements.
“No, I’m lying,” I replied with haughty dignity.
“Sorry baba, I was only saying that you appeared quite alright yesterday night.”
“Well next time I’ll tell the virus to give one week’s advance notice so that my wife may believe me when I tell her I’m sick.”
“Come on, I apologized na. Now stop being peevish and tell me if I should get bed-tea for you.”
“Okay,” I relented. “And I will try and swallow some maggi noodles. It will be impossible for me to swallow any of the healthy muck.”
And I groaned and moaned like an early Christian martyr between mouthfuls of masala maggi noodles.
My wife went to work, and I dragged my suffering body to the computer and tried to distract myself with facebook and blogging, interspersed with some more serious study of the female anatomy in various perspectives, which certain scientific minded websites are only too glad to supply gratuitously – such a study being my passion right from my teens. That way I had the satisfaction of being firm in the path of knowledge, even while my body was suffering the terrible pangs of a horrible scourge.
My wife came back early from work and saw through the brave mask of fortitude with which I tried to cover my agonies.
“Oh darling, you are still feeling pretty bad, aren’t you? Poor thing, what do you want for dinner? Shall I make you some porridge?”
With a stupendous effort of will power I forced my vocal cords to form words to the effect that I felt nauseated at the very thought of food, but if she were to order my favorite pizza, I might attempt to swallow a couple of pieces of that. And somehow with her tender solicitations I was able to achieve the miraculous feat of finishing the pizza that she had ordered for both of us.
It was only my daughter who struck a discordant note in the entire sickness symphony and seemed to think of my illness as a craven excuse to prevent her from her usual entertainment of jumping on my tummy. She registered her protest in no uncertain terms and had to be mollified with an ice-cream.
Two days I spent in the heavenly abode of sickness and disease and on the third day returned to the hell of my job. As usual the master of hell was standing at the doorway and conspicuously lifted his wrist to his face to mark the time of my arrival.
“I was just happening to glance through the register and noticed that you have availed of too many sick-leaves this year,” said Beelzebub. “Perhaps we should go to my chamber and discuss the matter.”
“Certainly Chief,” I replied, “and as long as we are at it, we might as well discuss my expected salary raise.”
And I will let the reader guess as to the fate of the proposed meeting.