On the common cold

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. C’est la vie !

Old post – replugged.

If you ever need a spiritual kick which will help you alter your stance on life, I suggest you get yourself a common cold. However catching it is an art, I warn you beforehand. I’ve drenched myself skin wet , on the shore, in the rain – all to no avail, but then, I needn’t have tried so hard. You see, I’m among the handful of the uncommonly blessed. The shape of my nose, the doctor informs me, makes me very susceptible to the charms of the cold. And I have outside help. My little kind feathered insect friends perform a little dance every morning around this sensitive sense organ which floods my eyes and makes me one of the helpless conquests of the coquettish cold.

The cold, she vanquishes you in stages. Stage one is when you have the minor irritation in your throat which you think is probably because of the palatable dish (which your mother with raised eyebrows certified as ‘absolutely appalling’ and which hence became ‘absolutely appealing’ ) which you consumed last night. At the breakfast table, you clear your throat loudly, again, again and yet again until your sibling demands waspishly if you would like to make yourself heard. You try hard to launch into a cutting speech, but then, you realize , aghast, that you can only clear your throat. The said sibling considers this a major victory and commits the incident to memory for future use in case she needs to taunt you. You hurriedly ‘poohpoo’  the suggestions that your mother makes with a knowing smile about the beginning of the tryst with the cold. ‘Ha!’ you sneer, ‘ha!’, the effect , however , all lost, because there’s no one at the breakfast table except you, everyone having finished their meal. The author recommends that you postpone all meetings with bosses or any heartwarming speeches you feel you might have to give, because clearing your throat at not infrequent intervals might lead others to think that you are , horrors! ,stalling.

Stage two is by far the most difficult phase. The cold is a haughty mistress and not the kind with which one falls in love at the first sight. She tests your mantle, and only after you’ve passed this stage, does she acquiese and show you her other face.To come out with flying colours, you need to be equipped with a lot of mental courage and handkerchiefs. Speaking of the latter, you suddenly realize you havent a single one. “Where”, you enquire , it must be admitted, testily, “Where have all the hankies gone?”. At this point, your mother , in a long suffering tone , begins to tell you how her well meant advice on getting a dozen of the handkerchiefs were disregarded. As you attempt to speak up, your nose twitches and you run hastily to the wash basin. A runny nose , in today’s snobbish society, isnt looked upon very much . ‘It isn’t genteel’, they say. Runny noses have been so long associated with whining brats that even *you* might feel awkward , nay, even ashamed.  But this is the time when you should be strong , and also learn the art of wiping your nose subtly. If you are a lady, I suggest you elegantly touch the tip of your nose with the tip of your hanky from time to time. However if your nose persists to run, inspite of these efforts, you should make a quick getaway to the powder room and then proceed to wipe it to your heart’s content.  Due to these actions, you might be the butt of comments regarding tomato nosed clowns, but you musn’t take them to heart even if there is some element of truth in them. If you are the sensitive sort, who gets affronted by  these remarks which are a little personal in nature , you can throw a spider at the witty offender if you wish,  if he doesnt like spiders and you don’t mind them.

If you wake up the next week, nose unblocked , throat clear and gloomy with no mood to sing, alas! I’m sorry, but you have been deserted heartlessly. However, lose not hope, there is always a next time. If however, you wake up to the pleasant feeling of a constricted chest and a blocked nose, with a wish to sing ‘ Gone are the dark clouds that had me me blind, It’s a bright bright bright sunshiny day’ , (even if it isnt),  you’re in love, or you have a cold or both. You find yourself with a new , husky, a little drawling, slightly nasal , altogether exotic  voice . And you give in completely to this new desire to sing. Ignore the catty people who tell you that you sound like an old pea hen cackling. It’s sheer jealousy.A true friend would echo what Monica  tells Phoebe.

Monica : That cold makes you sound great .
Phoebe  :  it’s fun. God , I love how sexy I am. (Coughs really loudly)

Stage four is the point of time when you get besotted with the cold. You can only talk about her and noone else. Your life, as they say, revolves around her. When you sneeze, it’s because she is thinking about you, when you talk, she is fondly remembered .You lose interest in company, become distant with friends, lose your appetite and get highly irritable if someone says they’ve caught the cold from you.  Perpetually light headed and drowsy , you look at the world with the disinterestedness of a detached spectator. The only thing you really want to do is blow your nose loudly, but you’re afraid the world doesn’t approve of it. This maddens you, saddens you, but what’s the use ? The world hasn’t changed or won’t . So you do the next best thing – sleep and dream pleasant dreams about blowing your nose.

Cursing themselves for allowing the situation to have developed itself so far, your parents march you to the doctor, who in between admiring his grandson’s grip of the pencil, deems it fit to declare that the the situation is not irremediable, that it is the ‘season’ as it were for getting a ‘cold’, (which further puts you out of your humour) and scribbles tonics, vitamins and pills for you to fortify yourself. Helpless like a new born child, you silently succumb to parental pressure and gulp the antibiotics without a murmur. And during this ‘recovery period’, you snuggle up in your bed, eyes brimming with tears of self pity and voice hoarse with coughing. The world sees you rise every morning with a dejected face and go back to sleep with a moroser one. And each time you look at the washed hankies, your eyes fill, and you involuntarily heave a sigh -”The good old days, when all I had was a runny nose”

All I say is , if this isn’t love,  what is ?

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