It's funny how a little something can put so much of ourselves into perspective.
For the past few days I've been suffering from repulsive mouth ulcers. Yes..eeewww... According to the doc it was a pretty bad case and for almost four days, I could not eat, drink or speak - a word. The pain was truly unbearable.
I survived day 1 of the gruesome ulcers without food or water. In the evening I had a cup of cool milk after I administered a gel that kinda numbed the area. But the gel was almost ineffective on the following days as the condition aggravated.
By day 3, I was dreaming of food. 'How nice it would be to have a thin crust pizza or a butter naan with dal makhani' my mind kept taunting me! I'd reached a pitiable state of craving for food in exactly 48 hours. What was strange to me was that for the past three months I'd been on a self imposed, restrictive diet that I was even beginning to enjoy. But 2 days of a 'compulsive' diet had virtually driven me crazy! Bottom line is I realised that I hate not having the choice "not" to eat!
The condition even took over my passion - writing!
My work depends on my yakking - if I can't speak I can't call/interview/interact with people for my newspaper stories.... A dear friend even joked, "Your dhanda must be affected coz you can't speak, right?" referring to my sense of helplessness as I sat at home, rented DVDs, watched my handphone call list pile up with 'Missed Calls'.... Again a 'compulsive' break that was wreaking havoc on my schedule and deadlines!
On day 4, I felt I could treat myself to an Idli dinner. Although I still couldn't speak, the gel was working long enough for me to gobble down a solid meal. Off I went to the nearby restaurant. I wrote - Idli parcel, no sambhar only chutney - on my handphone and showed it at the counter.
The man behind the counter instantly offered me a place to sit, not customary, because a lot of other 'parcel' people were standing around waiting in the filled-to-capacity restaurant. I realised that the staff assumed that I am disabled when the waiter who brought me my dinner chose to tap me on my shoulder to get my attention, rather than call out the token number given to me! Perhaps he assumed that I am speech and hearing impaired..
What does it feel to lose your job/career/passion when circumstances compel you? How does it feel to not be 'normal'? How does one go through life compromising with their very existence? Ulcers are not life threatening or contagious, but in four days I came this close to losing my demeanour, my sense of humour and my optimism...
I've known a few people who've lived through the worst circumstances that life could possibly offer. And they've done it with dignity. My feelings for them just moved up from mere 'empathy'...They're heroes... Hats off to them!