Saturday, December 31, 2005
Why must everything in my life have a limp denouement, I wonder? Why must the day start off with me having no fever and feeling upbeat? And then why must it end with the fever coming up to me at bedtime, knocking my head and saying, ‘What’s up buddy!’ and crawling under my skin?
Why must I be suddenly taken over by healthy hunger pangs that turn to strangling octopus cramps as soon as I help myself to some home-made apple pie?
Why must my friends all surface around this time, be generous enough to buy passes for New Year events, and then why must I go all Greta Garbo-like and say, ‘Sorry, mustn’t go out in public.’
I have no friends left, no parties to go to, no possibilities for a quiet gaze at a firework ornamented sky, no chance of hearing lilting laughter and clinking glasses over the Arabian Sea. I have nothing, except a rather cheeky fever and a pusillanimous stomach that just can’t get okay.
I have been sullen and contrary since a couple of days when I hadn’t received any get well soon cards. I wanted a paper card with beautiful sparkly glitter at the edges and ‘Get well soon’ written in slanting handwriting. But I didn’t get any. Nothing. Not one. Not an ‘e’ one, not a wee one. Therefore I decided to take matters in my own hands and make one myself.
I had some card paper and I thought I’d cut out pieces from the other Christmas cards and make a sort of a collage. But I couldn’t quite figure what a reindeer would be doing on a get well soon card. Although I must say that a reindeer is as good a symbol of health as any. Haven’t ever heard of sick reindeers. Anyway, with chart paper, sketch pens, and glue all sprawled on the floor, it turned out that making a card would be too much trouble.
So I called up my friend in Delhi to send me one. He’s a lawyer and everytime I call him, he expects it to be that one call I’d be allowed from jail. So, my calls are usually attended to, with some disappointment when he finds out that I’m not imprisoned, but in fact only sordidly depressed, manically happy, despondent or bereft or any of the other things that make me, well, me.
‘Send me a get well soon card,’, I tell A.
‘What’s your address?’, he asks, not missing a heartbeat.
I give it to him.
‘Ok, bye’, he says and hangs up.
The next day, I get a beautiful sea green card with a bouquet of daisies and some other sprays tied with a green ribbon. Now, that was a little unusual because ribbons on greeting cards are usually red.
And A, being truly a man of very very few words, had simply written, ‘Dearest Mukta…’ ,’Love A’. The rest of the message was in the card and I was required to read it and derive the full import of the speedy recovery I was wished. So that cheered me up a little bit.
And then, a bit of the downside happened when my friend called to tell me about this family that doesn’t have electricity or food. Then the upswing again when he said he’d taken care of it and the family would indeed have electricity and food.
Then the downside was when he said he was going to be at a bar with friends where he would have tasty, ruby colored drinks. Or maybe he wouldn’t have ruby-colored drinks. I have ruby-colored drinks in pretty glasses. I love Cosmopolitan. Anyway, I won’t be having that either…and as for visiting a nightclub, well, I wonder if nightclubs will still be around after I recover, if that ever happens.
Then there was news about my brother, who for some strange reason, is now in Odessa. So, he spends December in Russia. Finally, someone whose situation I’m not enviable of.
Tonight, people will live it up the Dorothy Parker way:
We eat and drink and live and lie
And dance the reeling midnight through,
As if tomorrow we should die,
But alas we never do…
I may have fudged a couple of words here and there. But tonight people will hope. They will look back at old photographs and remember. They will talk to relatives and huddle under blankets and kiss and hold hands and hug and recite poems and write diaries and talk to their toothbrush (I refuse to believe I’m the only person in the world who does that). While I, sad, maudlin, pitiful I, will stay in bed with fever, reading my one and only get well soon card. Eating toast.
But that’s not fair.
It’s not fair that I should forget how generous my body has been – to have undergone so much neglect and yet fought the disease so valiantly. It’s not fair to forget my faculties that really have given me much joy, registering the bizarre, glossing over the pain, romanticizing the happiness. This year, I read Michael Cunningham. This year I read Kazuo Ishiguro. This year I read me, and I don't mean the writings.
When it really comes down to it, ‘thank you’ somehow always sums it up.
Happy New Year all!