My Microbe Wars…

Published Us Magazine, The News International. 9th September, 2011.   


When it happened for the first time, I ignored mercifully. The secondth time was more trying, but I again let my malevolent facet triumph over the vindictive one. On the third episode I realized how over-rated kindness was and that it was about time for action. Finally, on the fourth time, the bubble burst. My insides dappled with rage, smashing the pot of mercy and bringing me to the battle-field. Spartacus style. War followed.

Normally, I am a peace-loving, law-abiding citizen. And perhaps I should confess here that I am one of those noble, fine people on whose stock, all sociologists suggest, we are running out very fast. (Think Dalai Lama, minus the mosquito sparing). I apparently have no problem with Hina Rabbani Khar showcasing her extravagance (as long as it’s on her own expense); nor with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (don’t forget Bhutto) entering politics (as long as he doesn’t get elected). Nor do I seem to have any trouble with Zulqurnain Haider fleeing the team (as long as he doesn’t return); or with Firdaus Ashiq Awan (as long as she doesn’t speak). Not a problem with Sahir Lodhi either (as long as I don’t have to watch his show). I don’t even have anything against those ultra-cool, (self-proclaimed) trend-setters; those English-speaking, rocking-and-rolling dudes and babes (as long as I don’t have to cope up with them).

    But as they say (okay, they don’t; I do), that every silver cloud comes with a dark lining, there are certain things that I don’t quite approve of. For example, I seriously do have one hell of a problem with a bunch of lousy bacteria living, mating and reproducing happily; that too, in my throat of all places. For God’s sake bacteria! The last time I checked it was my throat, not a honey-moon resort!

     Therefore, all my exalt gave way to fury when bacteria assaulted my throat for the fourth time in a year, endowing upon me tonsillitis. It was then that I devised my war-strategy, very sensibly, taking notes from various doctors, books and the internet. I started with warm-water gargles, stepped up to salt-water and aspirin ones; culminating in anti-bacterial mouthwash gargles, with the invariable results of gulping the putrid tasting water. I tried adrak-wali-chai (ginger-tea), haldi-wala-doodh (turmeric milk) and kali mirch (black-pepper), reaching the conclusion that these are of mega help, but only when you plan to burn your throat. And after practicing this home-remedy, I got ulcers down my entire digestive tube. The cause was uncertain, but my cook still insists it was the overdose of haldi! I tried all sorts of anti-biotics, so much so that at a certain time, the number of drugs in my knowledge-list even outdid Meera’s Youtube hits. (Beat that!) Even these potent drugs couldn’t over-throw the microbes, and rather blessed me with a flavour that you get only by chewing gourds or pappayas all day long. Sessions with the doctors were always an adventure; each one came up with his own version of diagnosis and prognosis. An especially embarrassing moment was when an ENT specialist asked me, ahem, if I drank and smoke regularly. I replied in negation. He leaned forward with a know-it-all expression, smirking. Our eyes met. I got his message: ‘Don’t lie baby, it’s written all over your face. You so are a chain smoker and drink regularly.’ Sigh! Amidst this massive chagrin materialised my last weapon of war. I headed to the hospital and got a tonsillectomy done, removal of my tonsils. Exactly, if you can’t make it, break it!

    Months passed in serenity. I spent long, lazy afternoons discovering the new, brighter, (whiter) me. Life mellowed, its vistas beautified. But with this silver cloud again came a dark lining.

    The next year I was diagnosed with pharyngitis, and I’m still working out on whether pharyngectomy is a viable option.



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